Witness Pioneer | Magazine


  Message from the Advisor

  Message from the President

  From the desk of the Editor

  Cover Story: Gender Issue: An Islamic Approach

  Problems confronting the Muslim World II: A Plight of Womenfolk in Muslim Society

  The Bengal Muslims on the Way to Decline: Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (1880-1932)

  Some issues regarding increase of Rape cases

  CEDAW and Bangladesh

  Inheritance Law in Islam and Women

  Misunderstanding encircling the position of Women in Islam

  Marriage, Childbirth and Victimization of Women

  Polygamy and Islam

  Divorce in the Light of Islam

  Verses on Divorce

  Wife: Her Status and Rights in Islam

  Woman: Her role in Society

  Women's Right and Islam

  Reflections: Does Islam discourages Women from attending the Masjid

  A summary of The Islamic rulings regarding Women's dress: According to the Qur'an and Sunnah

  Impressions: My Body is My Own Business

  Hijaab: My Personal Experiences

  A true story: Reason not to party anymore!!!

  Hazrat Umme Habibah

  Zaynab Al-Ghazali

  An interview with Ms. Marlina Garsia (Khadiza)

  Book Review: Rasuler (SAWS) Juge Nari Shwadhinota

  Book Review: Muslim Narir Sangram

  Companions of the Great Day

  Why I wear Hijab

  To Western Woman

  A biography of a Book

  Special Report: Discussion on Women in Islam

  Mother outside home free children inside home fettered

  Turkish secularism finds its expression in Japan

  Living Together

  Separate transport for women

  Dead Heart: Al-Jumuah, Vol 8 issue 4, USA

  Non-Muslim scholars about Prophet (SAWS)

Message from the Advisor

I congratulate The Pioneer for bringing out an issue of the magazine concerning the gender question. The celebrated Islamic scholar late Dr. Said Ramadan considered the "Plight of Muslim Women-folk" as one of the most serious problems facing the Muslim world. Progress of Islamic movement and Dawah, and development of Islamic Society at large and society in future depends, among others, on our ability to integrate the women in Islamic work and activities and convincing them that all their rights are assured in Islam, that their human person and honour are the same as that of man. In fact, Islamic work has progressed more in those societies and countries where women have been involved in Islamic movement fully.

I hope this issue of The Pioneer will be useful for all concerned.

by Shah Abdul Hannan
The Pioneer, Dhaka

Message from the President

The purpose of the advent of Islam is to establish justice (Adl) in every sphere of human life. In the Holy Qur'an Allah says, " Say: 'My Lord hath commanded Justice'…." (7:29). For the last few thousand of years, women have been subject to many social injustices both in Islamic and non-Islamic countries. Considering the miserable plight of women in history, Islam gives a remarkable emphasis on the restoration of their proper status and rights. Allah commands us, "And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? -Men, women, and children, whose cry is 'Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from Thee one who will protect; and raise for us from Thee one who will help'." (4:75). The Holy Prophet (SAWS) says "O Allah, I declare sinful any failure to safeguard the rights of two weak ones namely orphans and women." (Nasai).

In this regard, one of the important duties of the educated Muslims is to explore and clarify the true position of women in the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah and to restore their position in the light of Madinan society at the time of the Prophet (SAWS). Apart from the seriousness of the issue from Islamic perspective, the prevailing misunderstanding regarding gender issue has increased the need to publish such a book. We hope that this publication will make a good contribution in this regard.

by Dr. Abu Khaldun Al-Mahmud
The Pioneer, Dhaka

From the desk of the Editor

It is a matter of great happiness for me and for my brothers of The Pioneer that Almighty Allah (SWT) has graciously made it possible for us to produce this important piece of work. In fact, from time to time, we publish a magazine entitled The Pioneer, which is the name of our organization also. But considering the seriousness of the gender issue, we are producing this issue in the form of a book that is supposed to meet the need for a long time. What really prompted us to take the plunge and venture upon creating a book on gender issue is our keen observation on the murky plight of women-folk in some Muslim societies on the one hand and the prevailing misunderstanding encircling their position in Islam on the other. We feel stunned to notice the discrepancy between the unique status of women in the normative teachings of Islam and the treatment they receive in some Muslim societies. Another surprising matter is the queer misinformation about the status of women in Islam that is being circulated by a section of people in national and international level.

In this book we have compiled some thoughtful writings of both mature and rising Islamic intellectuals. In this way we have tried to invite the attention of the Ummah to the seriousness of the matter. We do not claim our work a superb intellectual achievement. What we humbly claim is our love for Allah and our yearning for clarifying the haziness of the issue and for the promotion of Islamic cause. Alhamdulillah, every thing we have done in this direction is to please our Lord. We are hopeful about our reward from Him.
"O our Lord! Accept this service from us: for thou are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing." (2:127).
"And their Lord has accepted of them, and answer them: 'Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female; you are members, one of another……and from His Presence is the best of rewards." (3:195).

We believe that this book will help eradicate many misunderstanding about the gender issue as far as it relates to Islam. We very earnestly invite the wise readership to kindly read it and form their mind properly and disseminate its writings.

We fervently urge the senior Islamic intellectuals to make further research in this connection.

I am most humbly grateful to my FATHER-LIKE TEACHER (fulfilling all the ramifications and demands of the term) Mr. Shah Abdul Hannan, my admiration, who has been kind enough to minutely read the entire work and criticize its various sections. I express my warm gratitude to Ms. Tahmina Sultana who has drawn my attention to some points that I overlooked. I feel deeply indebted to many others for their help, advice and encouragement without which this noble piece of composition might not be possible.

by Md. Mahmudul Hasan
Editor/Secretary General
The Pioneer, Dhaka

Cover Story: Gender Issue: An Islamic Approach

The status and dignity of woman as it is present in the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah is completely revolutionary in comparison to her position in any periods of history before the advent of Islam. The Islamic position of woman is free of any extremity or negligence. In the pre-Islamic Arab women were treated as men's property to be possessed or dispossessed at men's pleasure. In marriage they were subject to polygamous practices and the female children to infanticide. Women were deprived of the right to select their husband and they had no financial security before and after marriage. At the very beginning of his prophetic mission, Muhammad (SAWS) addressed these dark aspects of woman-folk. Islam has interdicted infanticide and grown a sense of abomination about it in the heart of people and restored the position of women from the chattel to the dignified position of human being as conferred by Allah (Al-Qur'an: 17:70). Islam ensured her economic right including her right to receive the dower directly (not through the intermediacy of her father or any other relative) and her right to retain her property and right of maintenance from the part of husband.

Keeping this general tone of Islamic approach to women in mind, I intend to explain the position of women in Islam in detail Insha'allah. My concept of the topic is based on some fundamental matters and principles of Islam that are independent of any time or environment factors and transcend the limitations of time and space. These are:

The first point is that Allah (SWT), the Creator of men and women and the whole universe, is not male or female and hence no question of bias is to be raised as far as the position of men and women in Islam is concerned.
The second point is that the message of Islam is based on justice and equity. Allah says, " Say: My Lord enjoins justice…." (7:29). "And for every nation there is a messenger. So when their messenger comes, the matter is decided between them with justice, and they are not wronged." (10:47). "Certainly We sent out Our messengers with clear arguments, and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right & Wrong), that people may stand forth in justice…." (57:25). The justice mentioned in the verses above and in so many other verses in the Holy Qur'an signifies "justice" in its broadest sense. So the Islamic treatment of the gender issue is essentially equitable and justifiable.
The third important point is that the whole universe is the family of Allah and mankind (men and women) comprises one family, Adam and Eve being their parents. Allah says, " O people, keep your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single being and created its mate from the same (kind), and spread from these two many men and women…." (4:1).
The essence of every human being is Ruh, which is independent of sex. The word "nafs" that is mentioned in the verse 4:1 bears two meanings. According to one use, it implies soul and according to another use, the significance of "nafs" is the whole of being and its essence. Based on this consideration, we find three fundamental areas where we both men and women are the same.
All the souls of men and women are created by Allah at a time: "And when thy Lord brought from the children of Adam, from their loins, their descendants, and made them bear witness about themselves; Am I not your Lord?…." (7:172).
In the physical mould both men and women have excellent feature "Certainly, We have created Mankind in the best of make." (95:4)
Our family is one family. (4:1).
The fifth point is that the discrepancy in sex makes no difference in the matter of dignity of both men and women and in their high standing as human being. "And surely We have honored the children of Adam, and We carry them in the land and the sea, and We provide them with good things, and We have made them excel highly most of those whom we have created." (17:70).
The relation between men and women is one of cooperation and friendship and not of rivalry. As human being both are equal in dignity and as the servant of Allah. But the western concept of equality as it is expressed in the ratification of CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women) is in manifest conflict with the concept of equality in Islam. Allah has made man and woman as two distinct sexes and their duties and responsibilities are also in accordance with their capabilities and limitations to a considerable extent. In some cases Islam gives men more duties and in some other variant cases women have to perform more. In some respects men enjoy more privilege and vice-versa. It is true that both men and women have limitations and both are not competent for every job and duty. So if we take the word 'equality' in its literal sense, it will make both the sexes fall into rivalry. And any concept of rivalry will not bring any good to any sex. The ultimate result of such freakish attitude to the gender issue surely is the disruption of society and the disintegration of the family mosaic. So both the sexes should be friendly and help each other to make a better world. So the term 'equity' is more appropriate than 'equality' as far as the Islamic treatment of the gender issue is concerned.
The seventh most important thing that we should take into consideration when dealing with gender issue is that, there, very regretfully, remains a gulf of difference between the status of women as it is present in the normative teachings of the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah and the diverse practices and treatments of women in many Muslim societies. Dr. Jamal A Badawi, a prominent Islamic scholar of the present world, rightly says in this regard, "In some Muslim communities women are treated in a manner which is not Islamic because of ignorance and non-application of Qur'anic teachings of Islam, however, an objective analysis of the teachings of Islam, the Qur'an, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), and its law, all show that in the spiritual, human, economic and social spheres, Islam's position on the status of women stands up to any test." (Islamic Teachings Course Vol. 3 , G-14)
All the misunderstandings created around the women issue within and without the Muslim societies are because of the misinterpretation of Islam. The so-called feminists and women rights workers are judging the position of women in Islam by their observations of the Muslim societies where women are still neglected in many respects. On the other hand, there remains a discrepancy between the vocal pronouncements of the women rights organizations in the West and the real condition of women there. In fact, women have become a carnal object and are degraded to the position of chattel and commodity in the guise of so-called 'gender equality'.

Now we can proceed to explain the position of women in Islam keeping the above-mentioned standards and criteria in mind. The Islamic position of women would be more transparent if I can present a considerable account of the dark aspect of the existence of women in the remote past, recent past and the current history.

It is true that human race, which began with Adam and Eve, was in a sound position in its inception and then there remained a perfect harmony in every spheres of life. Allah says, "All mankind was once one single community; (then they began to differ) whereupon Allah raised up the prophets as heralds of glad tidings and warners…." (2:213). This verse indicates that mankind are all descended from the same parents (49: 13); still again that they are as it were dwellers of one home, having the same earth as a resting place and the same heaven as a canopy (2: 22). It then lays down the principle of the oneness of the humanity in the clearest words. The verse 2:213 indicates that mankind ceased to be 'one single community' as regards their outlook on life and their moral valuations and it was at this stage that divine guidance became necessary. Along with all other outlooks of life, attitude to women also underwent a radical change and distortion by the passage of time. Women ceased to be treated by men the way Adam treated Eve.

In some periods of history women were judged according to her physical capacities in contrast to men and not according to her capacity as the member of human family. It is true that Allah has made women physically weak in comparison to men; but He has not made it a criterion to ascertain superiority or inferiority. It is the dark facet of history that the distinction in the physical capability of men and women has later become the touchstone in discriminating between their status.

There was a time when Greece and Rome reached the culmination of civilization. Nevertheless, their notion about women was very disgusting. Both Athenian and Roman women were regarded minors incapable of acting independently and on the ground of this false notion women's consent was not asked in marriage and as a result women got from their parents 'her husband and her lord'. Women were deprived of any economic right; and her property passed from her father to her husband even if she had any. Women were thought incapable of making financial transaction or will.

In the Eastern civilization, particularly in China and India, the position of women was the same as it was in the Western civilization. The Chinese attitude towards women is reflected in the statement of the 3rd BC century Chinese poet Hu Suan who said, "how sad it is to be a woman, nothing on earth is so cheap."

In Buddhist culture women were regarded as a dreadful creature which is the source of all sin and delusion. In Hindu cultures in India, woman was under total subjugation of man and she has no business with the religious book and no right to re-marry rather, sometimes, had to die with her husband in the funeral pyre.

In the recent past, in other words, prior to the rise of the feminist movement, there prevailed a deplorable condition of women all over the western countries. In the Encyclopaedia Americana (pub.1969; vol. 19; p.p. 108), it is said that in English common law all the real property held by a woman at the time of her marriage became the property of her husband. It was as late as 1870s when women achieved the right to enter contracts and hold property. In France it was recognized much more lately i.e. in 1938. And the enfranchisement of women was recognized in England only in 1918.

Now we can take a notice of what is the real status of women in west in the current history. In fact, women are considered in the West simply as a carnal object and a means of sexual gratification. According to the Newsweek October 25, 1993, average women in American society undergo "eight rapes by strangers (including one on a college campus), two sexual assaults (one Central Park, one Prospect Park), one abduction (woman walking down street forced into car full of man), one date rape involving Mickey Finn, which resulted in pregnancy and abortion, and two stalking (one ex-lover, one deranged fan); plus one brutal beating by a boyfriend, three incidents of childhood incest (none involving therapist-aided "recovered memories), and one bizarre incident in which a friend went to a man's apartment after meeting him at a party and was forced by him to spend the night under the shower, naked, while he debated whether to kill her, rape her, or let her go."

According to the report the No. 1 group to be sexually assaulted in this country (America) are 16-year olds. The second largest group hit is the 20-to-24-year-old age bracket. Women are four times more likely to face assault during these years than any other time in their lives. Forty percent of all the rapists arrested are under 25. And as for the most conservative, yet trustworthy, numbers: according to the National Victim Center survey in 1992-a survey that did not include intoxication-13 percent of adult women are victims of forcible rape. That is one in seven. But the frequency of rape cases in Europe and America at the present time is much more harrowing.

In the context of the present western society, it is ironic that every movement created to encourage woman to stand up and fight their own battles has taken a strange detour, and instead is making them feel vulnerable and in need of protection. From the grade school to the workplace, women are asking that everything be codified: How to eat; what to say; who to date; when to mate. They are huddling in packs, insisting on a plethora of rules on which to rely, and turning to authority with complain when anything goes wrong. At present the western society is not one of Angry Young Women; rather these are Scared Little Girls.

What is happening in the university campuses in the west is scary, because it is polarizing men and women. Rather than to encourage them to work together, to trust one another, it is intensifying suspicion. If women are so profoundly distrustful of men, how will they raise boys? And if men are so defensive about women, how will they raise the girls? So the family disintegration in the west is the inevitable outcome of this unnatural relationship between men and women in the name of gender equality.

The present feminist movement in the west is motivated by a freakish idea of abolishing all the distinctiveness between men and women. Here women celebrities pose with cigars, or win medals for war heroism, muscular men dress as brides or-the ultimate-get pregnant. The dismal aspect of western feminist movement is that, here, one of the most basic distinctions in human experience-that between men and women-is getting blurrier and blurrier. In such circumstances it comes as no surprise to find the New York Times reporting is September 1996 on the rise of the 'transgender' movement, embracing 'transsexual, cross-dressers…interested people…' womanish men and mannish women.

In fact, these are the darkest aspects of women's condition in the remote past, recent past and in our contemporary societies. Now a considerable picture of the position of women in Islam as it is present in the Qur'an and Sunnah will prove the truth that Islamic attitude to gender issue is totally justified. And it will surely be manifested that Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) did not determine the position and status of woman in society, rather it was Allah Who decided the matter and He acts according to 'right and justice', totally independent of any particular social environments.

The advent of the prophet of Islam, in part at least, as it seems to me, was the upshot of all that was happening to women at that time in Arabia. Prior to Islam, the chief criterion of eligibility was the ability to contribute to the strength of the individual tribe through effective participation in the popular sport of tribal warfare. This resulted, among other things, in the exclusion from inheritance of women, minor of both sexes, and invalids, as well as in the preference of the paternal to the maternal lives. So the existence of women or to be the parents of female child was a matter of great disgust and dishonor. The Qur'an says, "When news is brought to one of them of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief" (16:58). Thus to keep the female infant as an object of perpetual contempt or to bury her alive was frequently done by the Pagan Arabs. The Qur'an further says, "And when one of them is given news of that which he sets up a likeness for the Beneficent, his face becomes black and he is full of rage." Omar (R) says, "By Allah we did not give women any respect in the Jahilia (days of ignorance). And finally Allah sent principles regarding them and established their rights and dues."

Thus before the advent of Islam, a large number of Arabic fathers buried their newly born daughters alive. A man related his own action during the days of ignorance to the Holy Prophet: " I had a little daughter who loved me very much. Whenever I called her, she came running happily towards me. One day I called her, and she came running as usual and followed me. I took her to a nearly well and pushed her in. At that moment she cried, "Father, father." The Prophet (SAWS) was shocked to hear it and his eyes were filled with tears." (Sunan Darimi). In another tradition it is said that the above-mentioned father buried his daughter. And it is also said that while the man was digging in order to bury her, his daughter was cleaning the earth from the body of the father.

Moreover, in the pre-Islamic Arab, to speak the truth, even in our society at present time (in the context of Bangladesh) women and female children are thought to be an object of bad omen. In the traditional Bangladeshi family (where the light of Islam is not present in true sense), it is seen that if the husband of a woman can earn his livelihood well and if everything goes well in the family, then the wife is considered a good one and no contempt is made. But if it happens that the husband fails to be successful in his business or to get promotion in his job, then everyone blames the hard circumstances on the defenseless wife, who, in fact, has nothing to do in the success or failure of husband in this case, and finally she is said to be a bad omen and it causes her an untold mental torment. Islam teaches us not to believe in any omen let alone woman. Our beloved Prophet (SAWS) says, "There is neither infectious disease and nor bad omen, but I like good augury. The Companions asked him (SAWS) "What is a good augury?" He answered "A good word". (Bukhari and Muslim; Riadus saleheen, Hadeeth No.1674)

It is the strong belief of every Muslim that everything good or evil comes from Allah (SWT) and no human being is liable for any undeserved misfortune and nor any human intervention can change the course of any good or misfortune. We can only pray, "Oh Allah! From Thee alone comes good and Thou alone canst repel evil. There is no strength to resist evil nor power to do good except through Thee." (Abu Dawud; Riadus-saleheen Hadeeth No.1676). Allah says, "If Allah toucheth thee with affliction, none can remove it but He; if He toucheth thee with happiness, He has power over all things." (6:17). So it is tantamount to blasphemy to blame women or men for any bad luck or ill fortune.

It should be made clear that, according to Islam, the matter of childbirth is absolutely in the Will of Allah (SWT) and no human intervention can change the gender of any issue. Neither the husband nor the wife has anything to do in choosing the sex of the would-be child. Allah says, "To Allah belongs the domain of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills (and plans). He bestows (children) male or female according to his will (and plan). He bestows both males and females and He leaves barren whom He wills for He is full of knowledge and power." (42:49-50).

Islam teaches us all that every parent should be ready to welcome the arrival of the newborn baby. Son should not be preferred as a human being to daughter. Prophet (SAWS) said, "A man who has a daughter, and he neither despises her nor buries her alive nor prefers son to daughter, Allah will admit him in Heaven." (Abu Dawud). Abu Sayeed (RAA) relates that the Holy Prophet (SAWS) said, "Whoever brought up three daughters and treated them well, the heaven is for him." (Abu Dawud-Tirmizi).

Thus when the whole world condemned women, Islam honored her. The Holy Prophet (SAWS) raised her status from the nadir of negligence to the perfect human being and assigned her respectable place in human society. The Prophet himself was very much careful about the causes of women and was compassionate to them. His behavior and treatment with his wives and daughters especially Fatima (RAA) reflects his general attitude towards women. Once the Holy wives were travelling on camels, the Prophet said to the camel driver, "Carry these glasses very carefully." About Fatima (RAA), his daughter, he (SAWS) said, "My daughter is my flesh, any trouble to her will cause pain to me." (Bukhari & Muslim). On another occasion somebody asked the Holy Prophet, "Who is your most beloved person?" He replied "Ayesha (RAA)." Hazrat Ayesha (RAA) relates, " I was with the Holy Prophet during a battle. I was very thin and lean in those days. The Prophet asked his Companions to go ahead. After that he told me to have a race. I won in the race and the Prophet (SAWS) kept quiet. After a long time when I have already forgotten all about this event and became fat, I accompanied him on a journey. Now he (SAWS) asked his Companions to go ahead and called me to have a race. This time he won the race and said smilingly, "It is my victory this time." Once Umme Zara (RAA) said, "I have no words to praise my husband. He has covered my ears with ornaments, and me so well that my lean and thin arms have become plump. In short, he has provided me with everything to keep me happy and I am happy. I am very lucky…." Hearing this the Prophet (SAWS) said to Ayesha , "I am like Abu Zara (the husband of Umme Zara) for you." Thus he loved his wife Ayesha and Fatima most. And the Qur'anic verses and the prophetic traditions bear the clear proof of this glaring truth. So when dealing with the Islamic perspective of gender issue, one should not be misguided by the regretfully deplorable condition of women in the so-called Muslim society; rather one should make a honest study of the normative teachings of Islam and Prophet's (SAWS) behavior with his wives and other women.

As human being Islam does not make any distinction between man and woman. As I mentioned previously that the RUH (soul) of both man and woman is same. According to the verse 30:30, another basic similarity between man and woman is manifested. Allah says, "And so set thy face steadfastly towards the (one ever-true) faith, turning away from all that is false, in accordance with the FITRAH (NATURAL DISPOSITION) which Allah has instilled into mankind, (for) not to allow any change to corrupt what Allah has created-this is the (purpose of the one) ever-true faith; but most people know it not." (30:30). The term FITRAH in the verse mankind's (both man and woman) inborn potential and intuitive ability to discern between right and wrong, true and false, and thus, to sense Allah's existence and oneness. There is also a prophetic tradition about this basic similarity between man and woman: "Every child is born in this natural disposition…." (Bukhari & Muslim). Fitrah also denotes our instinctive cognition of Allah and surrender to Him. According to the above-mentioned verse and the Hadeeth, there remains no discrepancy between the inherent potential and intellectual faculty of man and woman.

The essence of the Qur'anic approach to gender issue is that Allah (SWT) abhors any idea of discrimination between man and woman as far as their fundamental characteristics are concerned. Allah (SWT) denigrates the notion of the disbeliever regarding man and woman as the Qur'an states, "And they say: ' What is in the wombs of such and such cattle is specially reserved (for food) for our men, and forbidden to our women….'" (6:139). Here Allah criticizes this pagan notion of difference between male and female.

In the matter of dignity and honor, both are equal in the sight of Allah and both have the sense of self-respect. In fact, the sum total of the teachings of Islam is to raise the dignity and honor of mankind and to disabuse it from any malignity or disgrace. It is to uphold and sustain this superiority of mankind over all other creatures, Islam directs the whole humanity to prostrate before none but Allah. Allah says, "Verily We have honored the children of Adam. We carry them on the land and the sea, and have made provision of good things for them, and We have preferred them above many of those We created with preferment." (17:70).

"When thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo: I am about to create a mortal out of mire. When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall you down in obeisance unto him. So the angels prostrated themselves all of them together." (38:71-3).

On the other hand, together with ensuring the honor of mankind, Allah (SWT) prescribes the degree of punishment for those who malign, or insult, or annoy Muslim man and those who do such to Muslim woman. The Qur'an states, "And as for those who malign believing men and believing women without their having done any wrong-they surely burden themselves with the guilt of calumny, and thus with the flagrant sin." (33:58)

In Islam the dignity does not depend upon being male or female or any other consideration but on being righteous. Allah says, "O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (Not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored among you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)." (49:13)

Thus it has become crystal clear that according to the Holy Qur'an, piety and virtue constitute the only criterion for the achievement of honor and success in this life as well as Hereafter. The Qur'an repeatedly states, "Whosoever doeth right whether male or female, and is a believer, him verily We shall quicken with good life and We shall pay them recompense in proportion of the best of what they used to do." (16:97)

"Lo! Men who surrender unto Allah, and women who surrender, and men who believe and women who believe, men who obey and women who obey, men who speak the truth and women who speak the truth…Allah hath prepared for them forgiveness and vast reward." (33:35). The verses 3:195 and 9:71 also support the idea that honor and dignity or status has nothing to do with male or female but with good deeds. Small differences in rights and duties do not in any way affect the basic equality of all human beings.

As regards the dignity and status of man and woman in Islam, there is a misunderstanding, which is caused by the misinterpretation of the verse 4:34 of the Holy Qur'an. The verse reads that "Men are the 'protectors and maintainers' of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard (in the husband's absence) what Allah would have them guard…." (4:34)

Quoting this particular verse some people want to establish the superiority of men over women as if men are 'boss' and women are 'subordinate'. The key word that is contentious here is 'Qawwamuna'. In fact, this word does not bear any sense of superiority of men or inferiority of women. The proponents of this freakish idea of 'superiority and inferiority' translate the word as '(men are) superiors and leaders of (women)'. But this is not the correct translation and to make my point, herein, I am quoting the meaning of the word from different Tafseers:

Abdullah Yousuf Ali translates it as "Men are the protectors and maintainers of women." In the footnote he says, "Qawwam: one who stands firm in another's business, protects his interests and looks after his affairs; or it may be standing firm in his own business, managing affairs, with a steady purpose. (Cf. 4:135)." Muhammad Asad in his Tafseer "The Message of The Qur'an" translates it "Men shall take full care of women…." Moulana Muhammad Ali, in his Tafseer "The Holy Qur'an", translates the word "(men are) the maintainers (of women)." Sayyid Abul A`la Moududi, in his Tafseer "Tafhimul-Qur'an"(English version; The Islamic Foundation, London), translates "Men are the protectors and maintainers of women." In the footnote he writes, "A Qawwam or Qawwim is a person responsible for administering and supervising the affairs of either individual or an organization, for protecting or safeguarding them and taking care of their needs."

Thus it is seen that no one among the above-mentioned Mufassireen (interpreters of the Holy Qur'an) connotes or infers any idea of superiority of men over women within the capacity of this verse. Hammudah Abd al-`Ati, in his "The Family Structure in Islam" deals with the matter in details and he quotes the verse 2:228 along with the verse 4:34 to make his point. The verse 2:228 reads "…But men have a degree (of advantage) over them (women)…." In this regard, Al-`Ati says, "This degree is usually interpreted by Muslims in conjunction with another passage which states, among other things, that men are protectors of women and managers of their affairs because Allah has made some excel others and because men spend of their means. The righteous women are therefore devoutly obedient and conscientiously guard what Allah would have them guard. (4:34). This degree may be likened to that sociological parlance calls 'instrumental leadership' or authority in the household due to role differentiation on the basis of sex."

Commenting on both the verses Abdullah Yousuf Ali says, "The difference in economic position between the sexes makes the man's rights and liabilities a little greater than woman's. 4:34 refers to the duty of the man to maintain the woman, and to a certain difference in nature between the sexes. Subject to this, the sexes are on terms of equality in law, and in certain matters the weaker sex is entitled to special protection."

The fact is that the husband must be more influential in some decisions, the wife would be in others. In family matters, the husband enjoys the "instrumental leadership", which deals with the " external system" whereas the wife has the "expressive leadership", which deals with the "internal system." About the degree mentioned in the verse 2:228, some writers say that "it means woman is worth half a man in certain cases of inheritance and in the bearing of witness to some legal transactions. In other words, the degree is 'operationalized' as the man's role of guardianship, a role that is based on the differential capacities of men and women. It is this role differentiation, together with differential capacities, that may provide a satisfactory explanation of the 'degree'." (The Family Structure in Islam). Another noteworthy fact is that the Qur'an does not state categorically that men are superior to women or that Allah has made men excel women. The verse (4:34) is unequivocal in specifying the financial role of men as a factor in their designation as guardian of women. But the verse speaks of excellence, it does not allocate it to any particular sex. Much less it does associate excellence with men exclusively. So in this case, excellence is attributed to some generalized men and women. This would be on the basis of Arabic grammatical rule of 'Taghleeb'. Then it would indicate that some of them, men and women, are endowed with what others, men and women, lack. In matters of guardianship and exercise of authority, men are generally more qualified than women and can better deal with the external problems of the family and social system. Hence they are entrusted with the instrumental authority of the household. This does not exclude the capacity or eligibility of women to excel in some other areas e.g. "expressive authority". If the two types of authority are differentiated and held to be equally essential to the family operation, then the question of superiority of one sex to the other is actually irrelevant and hardly arises.

Commenting on this aspect, Dr. Jamal A. Badawi writes in his treatise entitled "Gender Equity in Islam", "Nowhere does the Qur'an state that one gender is superior to the other. Some mistakenly translate 'Qiwamah' or responsibility for the family as superiority. The Qur'an makes it clear that the sole basis of superiority of any person over another is piety and righteousness not gender, color or nationality." So the question of superiority or inferiority on the basis of gender is inconceivable.

Another matter to be mentioned in this respect is that the fundamental responsibility of both man and woman is same; both must affirm the testimony of faith, perform the five daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan, give Zakat, and perform Hajj if they can afford to do so. However, there are certain exemptions and concessions that apply to women because of their bodily functions and these exemptions and concessions do not affect their reward. Allah says, "Verily We did offer the trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains: But they refuse to undertake it, being afraid thereof: But human being undertook it up-for, verily, he has always been prone to be most wicked, most foolish. (And so it is) that Allah imposes suffering on the hypocrites, both men and women, as well as on the men and women who ascribe divinity to aught beside Him. And (so, too, it is) that Allah turns in His mercy unto the believing men and women; for Allah is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace." (33:72-3).

The above-mentioned verses along with the verses 33:36 and 9:71 clearly testifies that the basic and fundamental responsibilities of both men and women and their reward or rebuke are the same without the least of gender consideration. Verse 9:71 clearly mentions six fundamental duties that are common to men and women.

Another glaring fact is that Prophet (SAWS) took allegiance of faith from women on the same conditions on which he took allegiance from men. Ubada ibn as-Samit said, "The Messenger of Allah said to us, 'Will you give allegiance to me on the same basis that the women do? That you will not associate anything with Allah, steal, commit fornication, kill your children, nor bring a lie which you forge between your hands and feet, and that you do not disobey me in anything correct?' We said, 'Yes, indeed, O Messenger of Allah.' So we gave allegiance to him on that basis. The Messenger of Allah said, 'Whoever commits a wrong action afterwards and is punished for it, that is his expiation. If he is not punished for it, then his affair is left to Allah. If He wishes, He will forgive him and if He wishes, He will punish him." In another long Hadeeth the Prophet (SAWS) said, "All the Muslims are equal in status and obligations." (Riadus-saleheen; Vol.2; Hadeeth No.1804; International Islamic Publishing House).

It is true that, in the practical life of mundane affairs, it appears that women are preferred to do the internal household work and men do the external jobs and more hazardous activities. But it does not mean that women are deprived of the right to participate in other organizational activities outside home, rather they can pursue any activities when the situation demands. Islam makes her a useful member of the society. There are certain areas where women can play more significant role than men can; such as: teaching, medicine, and nursing, to mention just a few. Again it does not necessarily mean that their activities are confined to a limited number of fields. The preference of the husband to do the pursuits outside home is for the fact that he is responsible for the maintenance of the family.

It is true that if women take care of household affairs, this will make a healthy and sound family. Every good family contributes and helps in the establishment of a conducive society. And finally a good society presents a good and well-disciplined nation. And hence Islam emphasizes that women should be more attached to family works as Allah has formed her nature more suitable for household activities. The Prophet (SAWS) says, "You (women) should be devoted to the household affairs and it is Jihad for you."

This Islamic approach to women does hint at Islam's unique attention to integrate the fabric of family. Once Hazrat Omar (RAA) criticized Sawda (RA) seeing her outside home. She reported the matter to the Prophet (SAWS). And soon afterwards, the Prophet (SAWS) felt a divine inspiration. When he (SAWS) got relieved of the stress of divine revelation, he said, "Verily, Allah has given you (women) permission to go outside home for your necessities." (Bukhari)

On another occasion, Hazrat Omar (RAA) was roaming over the market and saw a man talking to a woman. Then Omar criticized the man. When he came to know that the woman was the wife of the man, he felt ashamed. This incident proves that even both the husband and the wife can go to the market together.

The relationship between man and woman as it is defined in the holy Qur'an and the Sunnah will make the position of woman in Islam clearer. The relation between man and woman, especially between the spouses, is based on the natural feeling and attraction that keeps them united in spite of their range of action and interest being quite different. A woman nurtures the human race with her blood and looks after the affairs of her home, but she finds it difficult to work in the field and defend herself against the enemies. Her heart is the abode of love, sympathy and sacrifice; whereas man is hardy and sturdy. So it is justifiable that their relation should be based on cooperation and not on any sense of rivalry. In a family the spouses are interdependent and complementary. The Qur'an states, "They (women) are raiment for you (men) and you are raiment for them." (2:187).

Commenting on the verse 2:187, Allama Abdullah Yousuf Ali says, "They (men and women) are for mutual support, mutual comfort, and mutual protection, fitting into each other as a garment fits the body." Moulana Muhammad Ali says, "They serve as garment for each other, i.e. they are a means of protection, comfort and even embellishment for each other, and the weakness of one is made up by the strength of the other."

The relation between man and woman is not one of hatred but one of love. Man is simply helpless without woman and vice versa. They are the source of peace and happiness to each other. Allah says, "And among His signs is this, that He has created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them. And He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect." (30:21)

In general the relation between man and woman can be summed up by the two verses: 9:67 and 9:71. Verse 9:67 reads, "The hypocrites, men and women, (have an understanding) with each other. They enjoin evil and forbid what is just, and are closed with their hands. They have forgotten Allah; so He hath forgotten them. Verily, the hypocrites are rebellions and perverse." On the contrary, the verse 9:71 states, "The believers, men and women, are protectors, one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy; for Allah is exalted in power, wise." (9:71).

In fact, the relation between husband and wife in Islam is based on both emotional attachment, as it is expressed in the verse 30:21 (And He has put love and mercy between your hearts), and a solemn covenant and commitment by both sides: "…You have gone in unto each other, and they have taken from you a solemn covenant…" (4:21). Both husband and wife are expected to live honorably with kindness, tolerance and patience or, if such relationship is not possible to maintain, to free from each other from the marital bond. (Ref. 4:19; 2:229-32).

A specific sequence of the marital bond between husband and wife is that the husband is responsible for the maintenance and this duty is to be discharged cheerfully and without reproach or injury. The wife's right to maintenance is established by the authority of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, the unanimous agreement of the jurists, or reason or common sense without any consideration of her being a Muslim or not. The wife's obligation issued from this marital alliance is that she must contribute to the comfort and well being of her mate. She may neither offend him nor hurt his feelings. Perhaps, nothing can illustrate this point better than the Qur'anic statement which describes the righteous people as those who pray: "…Our Lord! Grant unto us spouses and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous" (25:74). In fact, to make the offspring the comfort of eyes is the primary responsibility of the wife, and as such the sound character of the future generation depends upon her to a great extent.

In case of the unsuccessful marriage and bitter relation between the spouses, Islam prescribes the procedure of divorce. And in this matter too Islam ensures the right of both the husband and the wife. The difference in the procedure of divorce of husband and wife is for some reasonable grounds. In the pre-Islamic Arabs there was no restriction on divorce, man was free to divorce his wife any time and any number of time and reunite her at his will in a whimsical manner. It is noticeable that, even at the present time, in some states of the USA it is possible to divorce, get married and then divorce again whimsically within the space of a day and it causes an untold mental and psychological suffering and harassment for the wife. (The Islamic Teaching Course; Vol. 3; By Dr. Jamal A Badawi). Some quarters of people seem to raise question about the right of wife to divorce on the ground that Islam gives husband the arbitrary right to divorce which a wife is not given. It is true that a husband may divorce at his will though he is not required to explain he has most likely reasons for divorce. And it is also true that a wife must apply to divorce by claiming maintenance, infirmity, sexual neglect, imprisonment, absence, prejudice, or immorality on the part of the husband (The Encyclopaedia of The Muslim World; Vol. 4). Unless it is a case of Khula, in which she can obtain divorce from her husband by surrendering a part of Mohr, husband can not refuse Khula. (Ref. G-45-46, Jamal Badawi; Islamic Teaching Course, Vol.3).

In the husband wife relation the financial liability is an important factor. Islam promulgates the law of maintenance of wife in detail, which is found in no other religious doctrine. Only a century ago there was no law to prevent the husband from tyrannizing his wife. The husband practiced full right over the wealth and property of his wife. In Islam the husband has no right to interfere in wife's financial matters or to make use of her personal wealth. The Qur'an states, "And in nowise covet those things in which Allah has bestowed His gifts more freely on some of you than on others; to men is allotted what they earn and to women what they earn. But ask Allah of His bounty. For Allah has full knowledge off all things." (4:32)

Moreover, Islam makes it a precondition of marriage that the groom must give the bride Mohr or marital gift, otherwise the marriage is invalid. Allah says, "And give the women (on marriage) their dower as a free gift; but if they, on their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it and enjoy it with right good cheer." (4:4). On another context, Allah says, "…(Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the people of the Book, revealed before your time, when you give them their due dowers, and desire chastity, not lewdness, not secret intrigue…." (5:5)

In this connection it is to be mentioned here that Hazrat Shuaib (Old Man) gave one of his daughters in marriage to Hazrat Musa (Moses) on the condition that the latter would serve the former for eight years. This service was essentially in lieu of mohr (the dower). The Qur'an relates the story, "He (the Old Man) said: I intend to wed one of these my daughters to thee, on condition that you serve me for eight years; but if you complete ten years, it will be (grace) from you. But I intend not to place you under difficulty: you will find me, indeed, if Allah wishes, one of the righteous." (28:27)

As regards the financial right of women, the question of inheritance inevitably arises. It should be kept in mind that there is no difference in kind but in degree in the matter of the inheritance of men and women. "Unto the men (of the family) belongs a share of that which parents and near kindred leave, and unto the women a share of that which parents and near kindred leave, whether it be little or much-(it is) a legal share." (4:7). The world should happily know that it was in response to the complain of a woman (and not a man) that Allah has promulgated the rules of inheritance in detail in the Holy Qur'an. It is related that after the Battle of Uhud, the wife of Sabit bin Qais complained to the Prophet (SAWS) that her husband had been martyred and she had two daughters. But Sabit's brother had misappropriated everything. Now, how would she arrange for their (the daughters') marriage? And then the revelation came as "Allah (thus) directs you as regard your children's (inheritance): to the male a portion equal to that of two females…." (4:11-13) and also the verse (4:176).

When Islam granted women the right to inheritance, the Arabs got stunned and asked the Prophet of Islam, "O Prophet of Allah! How can a woman inherit half of the property when she cannot ride a horse nor defend herself?"

Islam makes not injustice in the ruling on inheritance; rather apparently it seems to be pro-woman. People earn undeserved wealth in two ways: one is through inheritance and the other is through marital alliance. In the first case women enjoy the half of the share of men; but in case of the marital alliance, it is the man who gives and the woman who receives even though the wife has no financial responsibility in running the family to be formed by the marital bond and even though the enjoyment and benefit ensued by marriage is mutual. It is totally reasonable that men need extra share of inheritance in view of their commitments not only to their own families and dependents, but also to other poor relatives who may be dependent on them. And any question of bias in inheritance issue or in any other case of gender issue is chimerical as Allah (SWT) is independent of any consideration of sex.

Allah the most Just of the judges (98:7) seems to be more careful about the matters related to women, the fair sex. When Aws bin Samit harassed his wife Khawlah bint Tha'labah by divorcing her in an old pagan custom i.e. Zihar, the immediate revelation was "Allah has indeed heard (and accepted) the statement of the woman who pleads with you concerning her husband and carries her complaints (in prayer) to Allah: and Allah always hears the arguments between both sides among you: for Allah hears and sees all things." (58:1). On the other hand, in the matter of chastity and honor, Allah (SWT) prescribes necessary measures. The Qur'an states, "Those who slander chaste women, incautious but believing, are cursed in this life and in the Hereafter: for them is a grievous penalty." (24:23). Thus the chastity and dignity of the woman-folk is more carefully guarded and ensured in Islam. On the contrary, the chastisement prescribed for the adulterer men and women as well as their status in the society is the same in an ideal Islamic society. (Ref.24: 2-3), (24:26).

The concept of the Original Sin is an important dimension that very nicely distinguishes the attitude of Islam and that of Christianity to women to a great extent. Firstly, it should be clarified that there is no room in Islam for any concept like Original Sin. In Christianity this concept propounds that the whole mankind is by born sinner as their parents (Adam and Eve) are. In Islam, no one is responsible for the misdeeds of other, nor the children for the sin of their parents and vice versa. Allah says, "Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds." (74:38). "On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns…." (2:286). This fact is true even in the broader sense. Allah states, "That was a people that have passed away. They shall reap the fruit of what they did, and you of what you do! And you will not be asked of what they did." (2:134). Moreover, the Qur'an repeatedly affirms that no one is responsible for the burden of the other. Allah says, "Every soul draws the meed of its acts on none but itself: no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another. Your good is in the end is towards Allah: He will tell you the truth of the things wherein you disputed." (6:164). The same truth has repeatedly been expressed in the verses: 17:15; 35:18; 39:7; 53:38.

Islam also negates any idea that Eve or Hawa was responsible for the first sin or she tempted Adam to commit this. The Bible says that Eve was, at first, tempted by the serpent to eat from the tree and then she tempted her husband to do so. But no where in the Islamic tradition is any mention of the serpent. Islam establishes that it was Satan (and not the serpent) who tempted Adam at the first time and Eve at the second time.

The creation of the mankind along with the sin of Adam and Eve is mentioned in detail in the verses like 2:30-39; 7:20-25; 20:120-122 etc. And no where does Allah say that only Eve was responsible for the sin. Almost in every case, Allah uses the phrase "both of them" and hence it is not Eve alone who is to blame for the fall of mankind from the heaven. Moreover, the verse 20:120 proves that it was Adam who was whispered or tempted by Satan and the verse 20:121-122 clearly states that "…Thus did Adam disobey his Lord, and allow him to be seduced. But his Lord chose him (for His Grace): He turned to him, and gave him guidance." The fact that Adam was a little bit more responsible for the sin is also supported by a prophetic tradition where the Prophet (SAWS) said that on the Day of Judgement, people will go to Adam (AS) and entreat him to intercede for them with Allah. He will refuse to do so saying, "Allah told me not to eat from the tree and I disobeyed; therefore, I am unworthy to intercede."

Bible says that women suffer in pregnancy and childbirth because of Eve's (who was a woman) sin. On the contrary, Islam deals with the matter of pregnancy and childbirth in a very sympathetic manner and it is described as a Jihad or struggle on the part of the mother for which she will gain due reward. Allah says, "And We have enjoined on men (to be good) to their parents: In travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twin was his weaning: (hear the command), ' Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) goal'." (31:14). The Prophet (SAWS) says, " If a woman dies in her post-natal period, her infant will drag her into Paradise."

Despite all the fact that Islam has ensured every rights of woman and dignified her position and recognized her independent personality, it is true that women in the present world, even in most Muslim societies, are deprived of their true status and position and are persecuted in many respects. Although there remains an irresistible movement for the cause of women all over the world, men's constant tyranny prevails almost everywhere. Both the so-called feminist organizations and some Muslim woman right organizations are working to better the condition of women and to restore her true position in the society. But the dark truth is that the western feminist movements are proceeding with the freakish idea of flattening all the natural differences between men and women and without recognizing the essential distinctions between men and women as two separate species. This approach to the gender issue will bring no betterment to the women.

This exacerbated plight of the women all over the world desperately invites the attention of all the Islamic organizations in particular and the whole Ummah in general to take the gender issue more seriously. We should not feel relieved criticizing the so-called feminist movements and applauding the elevated position of women in the golden age of Islam; rather we should most actively and faithfully struggle for the cause of women with might and main. And we should deem it our religious duty as Allah commands us, "And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? -Men, women, and children, whose cry is 'Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from Thee one who will protect; and raise for us from Thee one who will help'." (4:75)

by Md. Mahmudul Hasan
Dated: 3rd May 1998

Problems confronting the Muslim World II: A Plight of Womenfolk in Muslim Society

(The author Dr. Said Ramadan appears to be a keen observer of the then prevailing situation of the Muslim world. Respected readers may kindly remember that Dr. Said Ramadan expressed his view about the plight of Muslim Ummah about three decades ago. In the present time also his reflection on the Muslim Ummah in general and women-folk in particular has not lost its appeal. We feel happy to produce it before the readers for their kind perusal-Editor)

The second problem is that of the position of the womenfolk in Muslim society. In this regard also, as in regard to our social life as a whole, we are in a state of complete chaos, hotchpotch of competing forces; the remaining Islamic influence, our inherited traditions and extraneous influences which have crept into our life as a result of the enveloping wave of blind imitation of the West. This has created a myriad of problems in Muslim society, among which deserving of special attention is the problem of womenfolk. This is not so merely because women constitute something more than half the community. It is particularly pressing because it is a problem, which affects the family, the very basis of our social life, and because of the deep and inherent relationship that it has with those factors, which make for the cohesion of our society. It is in fact a problem that affects in its ramification most of aspects of our national orientation.

It is strange that we Muslims should neglect the important position of women. The Shariah has placed such emphasis on it in connection with the lives of those great men whom God entrusted with high tasks and whom He chose as the recipients of His revelation-those noble souls ordained to deliver God's message to mankind. In the story of Moses it is his mother, Pharaoh's wife and the daughter of Madyan who constitute great figures. In the story of Jesus, his virtuous mother is a great pillar of the story. The principal nobility and virtue among those who stood faithfully by the side of Muhammad (SAWS) in his apostolic mission was Khadijah, the compassionate and noble lady of Mecca. Indeed, the numerous verses of the Qur'an and the large number of prophetic traditions which speak of woman's status and of her rights and responsibilities, are quite sufficient to determine our attitude towards womanhood. The Holy Qur'an refers to their position while comparing it with the position of men in the sight of God and proclaims it to be one of complete equality:
"I shall not let the work of worker, male or female, be lost. You issue from one another." (11: 195).

On other occasion it mentions the rights and duties of women as akin to those of men before mentioning man's administrative leadership of the family.
"And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men), according to what is equitable, and men are a degree above them." (11:228).

On still another occasion we find Islam pointedly stressing gentleness and good behavior in the treatment of women. Said the Prophet in his last address:
"I advise you to be good to women."

It is not my intention to discuss the position of womenfolk in all its ramifications. What I have to say will be quite brief, but nevertheless of serious importance, for the time has come when we should be very clear as a number of questions relating to this problem and attention to the solution thereof. It should be very clear in our minds that woman, according to Islam, is intrinsically like her male partner. She is a human being endowed with the same essence of nobility, which is shared by the whole human species. As far as human quality is concerned, men and women are absolutely alike:
"O mankind! Revere your Lord, Who created you from a soul and from that created its mate, Who thereof brought forth multitude of men and women." (4:1).

Moreover, each one, man and woman, will be held responsible for his own individual self:
"….and every one of them will come to God, on the day of Resurrection, alone." (19:95).

This means that those who either believe, or whose behavior reveals the unconscious concept that woman is an inferior being who has to be subjugated, that she is merely an instrument for the self-indulgence of man-such people require a radical reorientation of their attitude towards womankind. Such people, by clinging to such unhealthy ideas, or through such unhealthy conduct, are grossly distorting God-given human nature and killing potentialities of thought, feeling and vitality in their partners of life.

It should also be clear that the unbridled self-will of certain women in other societies, or of those of our own who blindly imitate them, should not be countered by extremism on our part: by imposing on women what God has not imposed upon them, or by forbidding them what God has not forbidden. We should remember that women in the western world began to lean in the wrong direction from definite causes, at least some of which were undoubtedly related to social injustices, under the dead weight of which, women had languished for so long, imprisoned and ignorant, with no will or personality of their own. They revolted against this injustice-and this revolt was a completely natural and genuine one. Then they began to lean in the wrong direction, becoming stubborn and headstrong. The same type injustice continues to have its strong-holds in our own society, where there are still people, though very few, who are proud of the fact that since the wedding night when their wives were driven home, they have not seen the street once. There are still other who consider themselves entitled to beat their wives if they dare to disagree with their views and advance an opinion of their own. Again, there are those who spend year after year with their wives and daughters without sitting down to discuss a problem with them or attempting to make them share their views.

Who would claim that any of these has anything to do with Islam? On the contrary, it is Islam that elevated women to heights of prestige, which have neither precedent nor parallel in human history. At a time when womanhood in the West was held in such a state of impurity that even a woman's was an evil pollution of the Bible, Qur'anic manuscripts were held in the trust of the Lady Hafsa at Medina. At a time when Romans held conference to debate whether woman was a "person" or a "thing", Muhammad (SAWS) stood up to declare that "women are but the sisters of men" and to shatter the pre-Islamic era of darkness and injustice, so that a woman could argue with the Holy Prophet in the courtyard of the mosque and say, "I have been deputed to you on behalf of woman!" Indeed, it was Islam which, for the first time, established the status of women full-fledged members of human society and granted them the right to owe whatever they earned since the Qur’an proclaimed:
"Unto men of fortune from that which they have earned, and unto women of fortune from that which they have earned." (4:32).

Whatever standards of decency Islam has laid down in matters of dress and behavior between man and woman, they are all with the sole intention of ensuring the sanctity of the home and the inviolability of marital intimacy. Not one of these standards could ever imply an attitude directed towards humiliation of woman as regards her social status or her role in her relationship with man. When a newly married girl complained to the Prophet that her father had chosen her husband without consulting her, he immediately gave her permission to annul her marriage, to which she replied: "I have no personal objection to my husband and I accept him, but I wanted it to be known that a father has no right to impose a husband upon his daughter without her consent." In contrast to the then prevailing ignorance and plutocracy of tribal traditions, Muhammad (SAWS) enjoined the quest of knowledge as an integral part of faith, for men and women alike. He praised highly the women of Ansar with:
"Blessed be those whose modesty never prevented them from seeking knowledge."

Far from being rough or rude, Muhammad's (SAWS) consciousness of women's tenderness and delicacy was so intense that even in the impelling harshness of the desert, he gently appealed to Anjashah, the caravan driver:
"O Anjashah, slow down a little, for thy camels are carrying glasses!"

This is only a glimpse of Islam: thus, how could we possibly be justified in so grossly distorting it by all sorts of misconceived traditions and beliefs? What could be more unjust, whether to Islam or to ourselves, than to misrepresent as we do, or rather to deform the beautiful features of Islam? And consider when?-at a time when we are encountering the movement of so-called progress and emancipation, which is advancing like a storm and wreaking havoc in our lives.

It is imperative to realize that the really weak points in our society are those that provide genuine cause for feminine revolt, which can subsequently take an extremist turn and ultimately lead to unbridled feminine self-will. If we are serious about resisting this unhealthy trends, it is our duty to call a stop where God has done so, and combat the deceptive, misleading elements we are encountering by adhering to what God has laid down for us. We should neither depart from anything which God has decreed out of weakness or compromise, nor add anything to it from extremism and severity.

These things are relevance for all Muslims. But they are of particular importance to those who are actively devoted to the revival of Islam. I fervently wish that such people would put these ideas into effect; would stop at the point where the Shariah stops, and have the courage to proclaim and insist on what God has made binding on us, and that alone. This is essential in creating a strong wall around whatever of virtue and purity remains in our society. It is to be hoped that by so doing the workers for the cause of Islam will have created a real barrier, one strengthened by the word of God and His Prophet, against the sweeping, devastating storm which threatens Islam today. For, if matters are not clarified, and confusion is allowed to reign as it does today, if the good aspects are not separated from the bad, both in theory and by good example, the result of this confusion is bound to be this: the good elements will be mistaken for bad, and both will be swept away by the rising storm. This will not be in the least surprising. For there is neither a divine code which is being sincerely adhered to, nor is there any social system based on experience and clarity of outlook, and God has not appointed a gendarme to regulate the conflicting traffic of good and evil.

by Dr. Said Ramadan
Director, Islamic Centre, Geneva

Courtesy: Young Pakistan, September 24, 1968

The Bengal Muslims on the Way to Decline: Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (1880-1932)

Honourable president and respected audience, I always vex you with the issue of the Sakhawat Memorial Girls' School to such an extent that some people may consider me a ‘nuisance’. Had I been an idolater and had a deity to worship, the deity would have definitely been irritated and said: ‘During the time of worship, instead of making supplications like “Give me riches! Give me fame!”, this girl continuously says “Give a home for the school! Give it prosperity and advancement!” So kick this bugger away!’

Today I beg a little time from you so that you can kindly listen to a few words of mine with patience.

You all know that I will not die if this Sakhawat Memorial Girls’ School ceases to exist. Certainly, nothing like this will befall me, that

"My homestead will be razed to the ground,
Pots will not mount on the furnace
The physician will not find the pulse
And I will be gasping in a dying state."

I will not sustain even an iota of loss if this school does not continue to exist. Then, why do I want the progress of this school? I do not want it to increase my own good reputation; I do not want it to commemorate the memory of my husband: I want it only for the welfare of the Bengal Muslim community. If the two words “Sakhawat Memorial” cause any harm to the school, then let those two words be erased from the ‘signboard’. Certainly, I will have nothing to lose or gain if the Muslim community survive or go to the dogs; because I do not have any descendants who will perturb me by their probable bad state, or shame me by their misdeeds. So you have understood that I have no personal interests in my concern for this school. If those, who have children and future, want to look after the community, then my appeal to them is this: please build this beneficial girls’ school as a model institution.

Turn over the page of history once and you will see that such a time came when the light of knowledge peeped through the dark house of the Bengali Hindus; then they opened their eyes. Thereafter, by the twittering of the birds they came to realize that “night time was over, it dawned.” They stood up leaving their idle bed. In spite of this, where could Hindus go? Due to their system of innumerable taboos, they become outcaste by doing this, or by eating that. Therefore, they became Christians in droves – gradually, in lieu of ‘Bandyopadhyay,’ they became ‘Bannerji’; and a ‘Sarker’ turned to be a ‘Sirker’. In the time of that dreadful, critical situation, renowned social welfare workers like Raja Ram Mohan Ray and Keshab Chandra Sen founded the Brahmo Samaj, the Society of God [in 1828]. This prevented Hindus from becoming Christians en masse. Then they had their own schools and colleges; their sons and daughters no longer went to Christian schools. They protected themselves by becoming independent.

Conversely, the Muslim community was seeing a dream of castle while sleeping in woody undergrowth. At that time, the light of awakening also peeped through their dilapidated thatch. They could not remain satisfied with reading Pandenama and Shâhnâmah only. They ran to the schools run by the Hindus and by the Christians. They did not set up any schools or colleges of their own at all. By receiving education from Christian colleges, they turned into good sahibs – they speak the English language, call household attendants ‘behara’ instead of ‘beyara’ and porters coolie instead of ‘motey’.

Still then, not much extensive harm befell the Muslim community; because children could not see whether their fathers drank tea or smoked cigarettes in clubs. They always saw their devout, prayerful mother at home; they used to imitate that role model and play namaj (prayer) in imitation of their mothers. Facing east, south or any other direction, they used to copy the call for ritual prayers – Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.

Gradually, the educated fathers could not remain satisfied by teaching their daughters only books like ‘Rahe Najat’ and ‘Sunavan’ at home. They sent their daughters to Convent and Hindu schools. Having gone to the Convent, Laila’s name was changed to ‘Lily’, and Zaynab’s to ‘Jenny’. Equally, having gone to Hindu schools, Ayesha’s name became ‘Asha, and ‘Kulsum’ turned to be ‘Kusum.’ If it had stopped at that, it would not have caused much detriment to the Muslim community. However, that was not the end of our downfall.

Subsequently, it required Christian ayahs to bring up Jenny’s children so that they could learn how to speak English. Her daughter’s name became “Barbara Areef”. Now Barbara does not see her mother praying at home, so the church becomes the model of her play. Upon returning home after learning songs from the Convent, she sings:

"Jesus saves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so"-

" Mussulmans are unfaithful
Beat them with a shoe and pull their ears."

On the other hand, Kusum’s daughter’s name has now become Soudamini Begum! Soudamini’s model of play is idol worshipping and making gods with clay. She sings:

"Smearing the clay of Jamuna in the body
Write the name of Lord Hari in it;
All friends meeting together sing the glory of Lord Hari
When you are exasperated." -

"The tonsured Mussulmans,—
They have neither wealth nor honour."

The other day, I happened to meet with a “Mussulman Brahmo” woman during the occasion of the Bengal Women’s Educational Conference. She outspokenly said that, since in the Mussulman community of her childhood there was no provision for women’s education, her father arranged for her higher education by resorting to the support of the Brahmo Samaj. The way she received education and culture did not give her opportunities to discuss the Qur’an and Hadith. So she could not adjust to Muslim society.

The Muslim community including her parents and brothers had to lose such a well-educated woman. For the lack of women’s education, the loss register of our society has been becoming extremely heavy. I have been informed by a reliable source that some respectable, high-born Muslim young men are advertising in newspapers that, if graduate brides are not available, they will not marry; or, if graduate women are not found in the Muslim community, they will become Christian.

Some lament: “My mother gave me in marriage to an illiterate woman; now let her live with her daughter-in-law – I can’t live as a householder with that wooden doll.” Some gentlemen audaciously demand an ‘I.A. pass’ bride. Some want at least ‘matriculation pass’ brides; otherwise, thy will become Christian or Brahmo. The main reason of this extreme feeling is the current irreligious education, as the poet Mr. Akbar of Allahabad excellently puts it:

" How can the infant get any scent of
its parents’ character?
While it is fed on tinned milk and gets educated
by the [colonial] Government."

It now appears that the houses of highly educated Muslim gentlemen are not illuminated without an ‘MA pass’ bride. However, instead of rebuking those gentlemen, arrangements should be made so that we can rectify this. It is also to my knowledge that many godless men have reformed at the hand of suitable, learned wives.

In this twentieth-century many other people have held onto their own practices tightly after having them reformed, rectified and refined. By incorporating our social norms, such as inheritance, divorce and khul’a in their customs, they are trying to sanction bills like the Bill of Daughters’ Inheritance in Fathers’ Property, the Bill of Divorcing One’s Wife, and the Bill of Divorcing One’s Husband. Conversely, we are turning into some peculiar brutes by abandoning our very beautiful religion and social practices. How will a name like Surendra Salimullah Samuel Khan sound?

The sum and substance of this is that the only remedy to this situation is an ideal Muslim girls’ school where our daughters will receive a high education that will enable them to keep pace with people from other communities and regions of the modern world. Muslim women from other greatly civilised communities and even of other parts of the sub-continent are becoming doctors, barristers, councillors and members of the Round Table. Why should our women be deprived of this splendid development and prosperity? Ideal Muslim girls’ schools will produce ideal Muslim women whose children will be like Hazrat Omar Faruq and Hazrat Fatema Zohra. To realize this goal, the spread of the teachings of the Qur’an in a large measure is necessary; that is, extensive spread of its translations into Bangla and Urdu is essential.

In my childhood, I used to hear my mother say: “Qur’an Shareef will protect us as a shield.” That statement is very true. However, this is not to say that we will need to fasten a big and beautifully wrapped-up Qur’an tightly on our back. Rather, in my humble opinion, I understand that a universal education in the Qur’an will guard us from the danger of superstitions of various kinds. Religious practices according to the Qur’an will protect us from moral downfalls and social degradations.

First published in the monthly Mohammadi, Calcutta, Jaistha, 1338 (according to Bangla calendar). Included in A. Quadir (Ed.), Rokeya Rachanabali (2nd ed.) (1999) (pp. 244-247). Dhaka, Bangladesh: Bangla Academy.

Translation: Md. Mahmudul Hasan

N.B. Readers very kindly remember that Begum Rokeya gave the speech about 70-years earlier

Some issues regarding increase of Rape cases

The news stories of different national dailies clearly show that crime especially the sexual crimes are on the increase in our country. As reported by the daily Inqilab in its 18th June 1998 issue, the number of rape cases perpetrated throughout the country during the last April and May is 212 and the shocking fact is that out of these cases 93 cases were of gang-rape.

This alarming tendency of sexual crime prevailing in our society has definitely appalled us and made the people panic-stricken. The principal reasons for this frequency of rape cases as have been identified in different seminars held for the last few months on the issue are as follows:

The over all deterioration of law and order in the country and the failure and inefficiency of police administration and the absence of their active role in applying law are largely responsible for this ever increasing tendency of different types of crimes specially rape cases. It is evident that in most cases the law-enforcing agencies fail to detect and apprehend the criminals.
It takes a long time to prosecute and take legal action against the criminals because of the tardiness of the judicial inquiry and delay in trial of the cases. As a result the fear and apprehension of punishment is growing less among the criminals.
All kinds of pornography and porno-literature as well as obscene film are greatly responsible for the rape cases. The authority, to speak the truth, has no control over the pervasive pornography of our society which are almost open to the people of all classes and ages to tempt them into sensual indulgences and the ultimate victims are the women. These types of pornography are definitely leading our population astray, impairing the moral health of the young generation and contaminating the whole society gradually.
The fourth notable reason for this tendency of crime is the absence of morality from the curricula of our education system. In the name of some philosophy or doctrine, religious education has, in fact, been made marginal.
These are the main causes as pointed out in different seminars held in the capital city for the last few months in 1998 on the contention. And the speakers of these seminars have opined that the solution to the problem of rape cases lies in giving proper attention to the above mentioned matters.

It sounds odd and absurd that few intellectuals have given their opinion that the eviction of brothels is the main cause of the spread of rape cases (Ref. The Holiday 22nd May 1998) and they have suggested that Govt. should restore the brothels. In fact, making such assessment of the issue by some intellectuals is really unfortunate.

Such assessment and suggestion of a section of people as well as some newspapers is completely untenable and is detrimental to ethical values of the nation. It is not only repugnant to the basic teachings of all religions but also irrational. Let us examine the situation of the USA where the occurrences of rape cases are approximately 2 lakhs in a year as is known from different reports though there is no dearth of prostitutes or brothels in that country. Whereas the number of rape cases in two months (April and May 1998) is 212 in our country, which means the total yearly occurrences are approximately 1500. Taking the matter of demography into account we can draw a conclusion that the rate of rape case is 80 to 100 times greater in the USA than it is in our country despite a limitless number of prostitutes there. It proves that there is no direct relation between the occurrence of rape and the eviction of brothels.

I am surprised how can a sensible man make such proposal to solve the problem of rape cases. If the establishment of brothels is the remedy for this social disease then it will require setting up brothels in large number of places in the country because sometimes in the villages also rape cases take place. If brothels are established in large numbers, the victims will be the defenseless poor women who will be abducted and be coerced to become prostitutes to satisfy the demand of that great number of brothels. So making such proposal seems unbecoming of any conscientious man.

To give sincere attention to the four points mentioned before is essentially the demand of the situation. The authority should seriously think about it if they want to check this increasing tendency of rape cases in real sense. In addition, the authority concerned should proceed with a long-term well-thought plan of a 'social engineering' so that everyone can get married and live with family easily and can satisfy his physical urge through family life. So the matter of social engineering should be taken seriously and be included in our national plan.

A professor of a university has written in a national daily that Shariah law does not help in checking sexual crime as it makes a provision of four witnesses to prove the occurrence of rape which is very difficult to fulfil. His accusation against Islam is that Islam does not play the proper role to stop rape. It is because of his inadequate knowledge of Islam that the professor has thought like that. The fact is that whereas the modern law terms only the intimate contact between two married man and woman as punishable crime, Islam defines any intimate contact outside marriage as sexual crime and makes provision of punishment for this. So his arraignment against Islam is not justified. I am sorry to say that the professor bears a wrong notion about the Islamic law of witness. As far as Islamic law is concerned, if four witnesses prove the crime then the imposition of 'Hadd' or death penalty will be applied on the accused. But if a less number of witnesses prove it, it does not mean that the guilty person will be exempted from punishment rather the punitive measures will be determined by 'Ta'jir'. 'Ta'jir' is the punishment which is not determined by the text of the holy Qur'an or Sunnah but by the court of an Islamic country or by the parliament in modern days on the basis of Shariah. The provision of Ta'jir has been prevalent in Islamic tradition since the time of the Prophet (SAWS). In Pakistan's Hudud law, punishment for rape not proved by four witnesses is 25 years of rigorous imprisonment. Ref. Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hodood) Ordinance, 1979, Section 10.

In this regard it should be mentioned here that the idea that all the four witnesses must be from amongst the male is not unanimously agreed upon as far as the opinions of different Islamic scholars are concerned. To a number of scholars they may be females also. (Ref. 'Islami Samaje Nari' by Mawlana Jalaluddin Ansar; 'Islamic Teaching Course Vol. 3, by Dr Jamal Al-Badawi.). Imam Juhri, Imam Awzai, Ibn Hajm and some other scholars have given such opinion. According to Allama Jamal Badawi, not only women witness are admissible, there is no difference in the number of male and female witness in this respect (Islamic Teachings Course; Vol. 3). The reason of this difference of opinion among the scholars is the contention that whether the witnesses will be male or female is a matter of interpretation and not settled by the Qur'an or Hadeeth definitively. Thus it is firmly established that in Islam no one can escape the consequence of the crime of rape or adultery; he will face the punishment of Hadd or Ta'jir depending on the nature of the proof.

Islam is that noble ideology that negates and strictly prohibits any sexual contact outside marriage and it is against all sorts of sensual relation outside marriage and it is against any idea of living together. What Islam wants is to present a society free of all kinds of immorality and illegal sexual indulgence. The moral responsibility of the Muslims is to establish a sound and well disciplined society through various means including moral uplift.

by Shah Abdul Hannan
Translated by: Md. Mahmudul Hasan

CEDAW and Bangladesh

Once I read an article by a female barrister entitled "Why Bangladesh drags its feet over CEDAW ratification" that was published in the daily The Independent in two installments on 10.09.97 and 11.09.97 consecutively. The writer's concern over the vulnerable condition of women in Bangladesh in particular and all over the world in general is worth acclaiming. She took notice on a stark reality prevalent in almost every country regarding woman rights. Almost every society or country has some laws and provisions to establish woman rights and to pressure her dignity and proper status as a member of the human family; but in most cases such laws and provisions remain in word and not in effect. Even many Muslim societies fail to give women the unique rights and dignity ensured by Islam and which are present in the texts of the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah.

Dealing with CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women) in the context of our country, the writer expatiated on her expostulating about the reservations pursued by Bangladesh in accepting the ratification of CEDAW. She termed the government of Bangladesh as 'cowboy' for accommodating such reservations. I differ with her on the ground that to maintain a unique national identity and a distinct position of a country in the international arena is not behaving like a 'cowboy', rather it is a manifestation of the sense of the national identity and dignity of the country concerned. A country is entitled to enjoy every right to preserve her cultural and religious identity while accepting any resolutions promulgated by the UN. And every country in the world has this right and freedom.

We should not forget that unlike OIC, UN is not a forum for the Muslim countries only, but it is an aggregate of 187 countries of different religious and cultural background and of different constitutions and national distinctiveness. Naturally while taking any program, UN takes little concern about Shariah or Islamic law. So every Muslim country is supposed to retain some reservations in accepting any program decreed by the UN with a view to keeping the Islamic law intact. Hence I appreciate such reservations in such cases and I consider it a bold undertaking. There is no reason to relent an Islamic law, as on comprehensive analysis this is a just system.

Another thing we should keep in mind is that CEDAW is to establish the rights and dignity of woman. But the problems of women in our country are not like those in other member countries of the UN. We should form our agenda for our variant situation according to our constitution and religious values. What the west understands by the word 'discrimination' is not the same thing we understand. Moreover, the western concept of equality between men and women, as it is present in the ratification of CEDAW, is in express conflict with the concept of equality in Islam. Allah has made men and women as two distinct species and their duties and responsibilities are also distinct to some extent. In some cases, Islam gives men more duties and in some variant other cases, women have to perform more. In some respects, men enjoy more privileges and vice-versa. It can not be denied that both males and females have some limitations and both are not competent for every job and duty. When both of them pursue their respective duties and are given their due rights, only then justice to both the sexes will be established. On the contrary, if we take the word 'equality' in its literal sense, it will make both the sexes fall into rivalry, which will not bring any good to either of the sexes. Both the sexes should be friendly and help each other to make a better world. So the word equity is more appropriate than equality as far as Islamic position is concerned.

Some articles of CEDAW are in manifest conflict with the Islamic values and Shariah such as the concept of unbridled equality of woman with man in all respect, which is an untenable phenomenon. It is true that man and woman are equal as member of the human society and their dignity are equal; but in their duties and privileges there exist some indispensable discrepancies.

Regarding our constitution, the writer says, "…we don't have any Shariah or religious laws per se in Bangladesh" and "we the people of Bangladesh are the authors of our constitution." This statement is not true. The fact is that though our constitution is not strictly Islamic, Islamic values and sentiment are inherent here in essence. The article 8 of our Constitution says that all action of the state shall be based on faith in Almighty Allah. Moreover, it is incumbent on the government to show true respect to the religious sentiments of the people together with the constitution. In our country, about 90% of the population are Muslims so every program by the government should be taken keeping the desire and aspiration of the majority of the population in mind. On the other hand, if we ourselves are the authors of our constitution, then naturally the question arises is: "what is our identity? Do we have any identity other than Muslim?" So why should we accept the provisions of CEDAW if they are repugnant to Islam? It is completely reasonable that in such cases, to make some reservations with a view to retaining our religious laws intact is praiseworthy. And the Govt. of our country should be careful in accepting any international conventions and our Islamic values and national uniqueness should not be forgotten about.

by Md. Mahmudul Hasan

Inheritance Law in Islam and Women

Inheritance is the transfer of legal possession of deceased persons onto their descendants. It is really a very tough job to determine the justified quantity or ratio of assets to be distributed among the dependants and relatives.

According to the Confucious philosophy like many other religions the eldest son enjoys the right of possessing the total assets of father (that is called the 'right of primogeniture'). Other systems prevalent throughout the world, with a very little variation, are very much one eyed towards women and in other words unjustified.

According to the Encyclopaedia Americana, in English Common law all the real property held by a woman at the time of her marriage became the property of her husband-he was entitled to the rent from the land and any profit that might be made from managing it. It was not until the late 1870s onwards in Europe that married women achieved the right to enter contracts and own property. In France this right was not recognized until 1938. Many western writers have expressed astonishment that Islam should have recognized property rights for women as early as the 670th CE; this is because they wonder how Muhammad (SAWS) could have initiated these rights for women at a time when women themselves were considered object of inheritance and abuse. They forget that Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) himself was not the maker of these laws, but it was Allah (SWT) who acts unbiased to any social environment. (Ref. G-15; The Islamic Teaching Course; Vol. 3).

During the time of Prophet (SAWS) women themselves were objects of inheritance and they were considered part of the possession of a man. At such a critical juncture of history Islam brought about a revolution in the domain of human thought and outlook towards women and established the right of women to inherit and has distributed the inheritance in a very upright way. This determined share is calculated by Allah Himself and can't be changed.
"To everyone, we have appointed shares and heirs to property left by parents and relatives…." (Surah Nisa-33)

The Islamic law of inheritance is extremely detailed and it is based on two most salient features:

The extent of the share of inheritance is dependent on the closeness of the heirs' relationship to the deceased.
"Blood-relations among each other have closer ties, in the Book of Allah, than (the brotherhood of) believers and Muhajirs" (Surah Ahjab-6)

And in another verse-

"From that is left by parents and those nearest related there is a share for men and a share of women, whether the property be small or large-a determined share.' (Surah Nisa-7)

In most cases, man's share of the inheritance is the twice of woman's.
"Allah (thus) directs you as regards your children's (inheritance) to the male, a portion equal to that of two females, if only daughter, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance, if only one her share is a half." (Surah Nisa: 11).

Actually this is due to the variant financial responsibilities of the male toward family and relatives. Moreover, this is astonishing that according to the Qur'an 12 persons have been declared as Jawil Furuz (determined share-holders) in respect of inheritance where only four persons are men and the rest eight are women. That means that Islam has shown its utmost seriousness about ensuring the portion of women, as they had been the most deprived ones before the advent of Islam. Islam has determined the share of daughter (as she has the status of Jawil Furuz) but did not determined the share of son (as his status is one of Asaba).

But western world seems very much concerned regarding the share of woman and they think that in Islam women's share in inheritance is unfair and unjustified. The fact is that in Islamic law as a whole, women are much more favored financially than their male counterparts for the following reasons:

Before marriage any gift given by the woman's fiancé is her own and her husband has no legal right to claim on it even after marriage.
On marriage she is entitled to receive a marriage gift (Mohr) and this is her own property.
Even if the wife is rich, she is not required to spend a single penny for household; the full responsibility for her food, clothing, housing, medications and recreation etc. are her husband's.
Any income the wife earns through investment or working is entirely her own.
In case of divorce, if any deferred part of the Mohr is left unpaid, it becomes due immediately.
The divorcee woman is entitled to get maintenance from husband during her waiting period (iddat).
Thus one can see that men need extra share to discharge the family responsibility, social responsibility etc. incumbent upon him.

Herein I would like to take the privilege quoting some other Qur'anic verses regarding the share of women in inheritance:
"In what your wives leave, your share is a half, if they leave no child; but if they leave a child, you get a fourth; after payment of legacies and debts. In what you leave, their (wives') share is a fourth, if you leave no child; if you leave a child, they get an eighth; after payment of legacies and debts…." (Surah Nisa-12).

"Allah directs about those who leave no descendants or ascendants as heirs: If it is a man that dies, leaving a sister but no child, she shall have half the inheritance." (Surah Nisa-176)

Thus it becomes crystal clear that the inheritance of Islam gives to women is quite respectable share-without rendering upon her financially any family or social responsibilities.


Codified Islamic Law, Islamic Foundation
Islamic Teaching Course, By Dr. Jamal Badawi
Rights of Women in Islamic Inheritance and Farayez, By Moulana Fazlur Rahman Ashrafi
Social Laws of Islam, By Shah Abdul Hannan
by Anjuman Ara

Misunderstanding encircling the position of Women in Islam

Though Islam has given women important position, there are still some people, especially in the west, who have misgivings about the status of women in Islam. To them, the Muslim women are considered 'prisoner' within the four walls of the house or a 'non-person' who has no rights and is living always under the domination of men. These notions are totally wrong and are based on ignorance rather than proper knowledge of Islam. Such misgivings will simply spread misunderstanding and misinformation about the normative teachings of Islam. A comparative study of the status of women in Islam and that in some other societies will help us have a proper understanding about the status and dignity of woman in Islam.

Position of women in the Islamic society: There are some basic facets of the status and position of woman in Islam. They are as follows:

Allah has created every living being in pairs-male and female (Al-Qur’an 51:49). So the relation between man and woman is one of cooperative and not antagonistic.
Allah has honored the children of Adam-both male and female. (17:70). Their status is essentially equal except the consideration of piety that makes a man or woman more honorable than others.
Men and women who believe are protectors of one another. (9:71). They protect one another from any deviations.
Allah will reward both men and women in the life to come fully and without making any sort of distinction between man and woman. (See Al-Qur’an 3:195).
These verses clearly establish that, in Islam, women are treated equally they do not suffer any discrepancy in mundane or religious affairs. This recognition is furthered proved when we take the rights and status of woman as specified by Islam in consideration.

As a mother: One prophetic tradition will suffice to clearly establish the unique position of the mother in Islam. The Prophet (SAWS) said, "Paradise lies under the feet of mother." Another Hadeeth is there stating the preponderant honor of mother over father. Once a man asked the Prophet (SAWS) "O Messenger of Allah! Who deserves the best care from me?" The Prophet (SAWS) replied, "Your mother". Again the man asked "Who then?" The Prophet (SAWS) said, "Your mother". For the third time the man asked the Prophet (SAWS) "Who then". The Prophet replied "Your mother". And the man asked for the fourth time "Who then", the Prophet (SAWS) replied "Your father". (Bukhari).

As a wife: In his farewell speech at Arafah in the tenth of Hijrah, the Prophet (SAWS) said, "O people, your wives have certain rights over you as you have certain rights over them. Treat them well and be kind to them, for they are your partners and are committed helpers." The Prophet also said, " The most perfect of the believers is the one who is best in his character, and the best of you are those among you who are best to their wives." (Tirmiji).

One of the rites of Hajj is the fast walk between As-safa and Marwah, which is observed to remember the event of Hagar, mother of Prophet Ismail, who ran between these two hills in search of water.

As a person: Women enjoy all important rights in Islam such as:

Islam has given her the right to own property. She is the owner of her earnings. No one (father, husband, brother or any other close or distant kin) has any right over her property. She can dispose of her earnings and property as she wishes, within the parameters of halal (lawful) and haram (prohibited).
Islam has given her the right to inheritance. She is entitled to inherit from her dead father, husband or childless brother. (Ref. 4:7, 32, 176).
She has a right to choose her husband. No one can impose a decision on her against her will. Any marital contract without her consent is simply null and void as far as Islamic law is concerned. A woman complained to the holy Prophet (SAWS) against her father who had given her in marriage without her consent. The Prophet (SAWS) gave her the authority either to retain or break the marriage. But the woman said, "I accept the match, but I just came to complain to you so that women would know that their fathers have no rights to force husbands on them." (Bukhari). She has the right to divorce her husband if their marriage becomes impossible to sustain.
If any man falsely questions a woman's chastity that man is declared unfit to give evidence (24:4). This shows that a woman's honor is safeguarded from false accusations.
The Qur’an asks the Muslims to treat woman kindly (4:19). It makes Muslim husbands responsible for their wives' maintenance. The woman, in return, are expected to remain obedient (in right and proper matters) and chaste (4:34).
A woman has the right to develop her talents and to work within the limit of Islam. Aisha (R), the Prophet's (SAWS) wife was a judge (Mufti) at various times, a political activist and, after the demise of the Prophet (SAWS), the interpreter of his teachings.
These all clearly prove the important position given to woman in Islam.

Position of woman in some societies in past: During the Roman civilization, for example, a woman was regarded as a slave. The Greeks considered her a commodity to be bought and sold. Early Christianity regarded her as temptress responsible for the fall of Adam. In India, the Hindus until recently considered their woman worse than death, pest, serpents or hell. A wife's life ended with the death of her husband. In the past, the widow had to jump into the flames of her husband's funeral pyre. In the pre-Islamic Arab, a woman was regarded as a cause of grief and unhappiness, and baby girls were sometimes buried alive soon after birth. In France in 587 CE, a meeting was held to study the status of women and to determine whether a woman could truly be considered a human being or not. Henry the 8th in England forbade the reading of the Bible by women, and throughout the middle ages, the Catholic Church treated women as second class citizen. In the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, male and female students were not given the same rights until 1964. Before 1850, women were not counted as citizens in England, and English woman had not personal rights until 1882.

Conclusion: An unbiased and comprehensive study of the status of woman in Islam clearly shows that Islam liberated woman from the dark age of obscurity fourteen hundred years ago. In some cases, differences in social life system in Islam between Muslim man and woman such as allowing polygamy (having more than one wives to the maximum of four) but not polyandry (having more than one husband at a time by a woman); allowing to marry non-Muslims (Christian and Jewish) women not men etc may arise misgivings. Actually these are based on ignorance rather than knowledge. A person with a reasonable knowledge of Islam can easily understand the reasons behind these small differences between men and women. Islam prescribes what is best for us considering the areas of inter-related life. Any imprecise knowledge about Islam will create misunderstanding and confusion. We should look into the matter, as a whole not in fragmented way. (Ref. Islamic Teachings Course, by Dr. Jamal Badawi, G-31-35).

Allah has not made man and woman identical, so it would be against nature to try to have total equality between man and woman. Islam has done the just thing, it has ensured equity between the sexes.

Any sense equality in its literal sense would destroy the social balance. Society will not prosper but would instead have insoluble problems such as broken marriages, illegitimate children and the break up of family life. These problems are already rife in the western society. In the West the women have been reduced almost to the position of commodity and object of carnal enjoyment. And women have tended to degrade themselves unwillingly in the modern times. In the name of equality, they have become the objects of exploitation by men and the slogans of liberty and equality have virtually reduced them to the status of plaything. Women have neither liberty nor equality, rather they have lost their natural place in the home and society.

Islam has given woman her right position without attempting to violate her natural dispositions. Other religions and philosophies have been unable to visualize the exact and correct role of women until today.


Encyclopaedia Britannica; Vol. 19 ; p. 909; 1977 ed.
Islam: belief, legislation and morals; by Dr. Ahmad Shalaby
Ibid; p.p. 312, 314.
Islam: Belief and Teachings; by Ghulam Sarwar; pub. By The Muslim Education Trust; 130, Stround Green Road, London.
by Md. Hossain Sohrab

Marriage, Childbirth and Victimization of Women

Introduction: Ours is a society that is unkind to women in many cases and it is a Muslim society though. Here the wives are treated almost like chattel in most of the rural areas. In the urban areas also the wives are not safe from the wrath of the cruel husbands though the form of the persecution here is quite different from that in the rural areas. Physical torture and mental torment inflicted by the husbands to their wives is not rare. Hostile treatment of some husbands is reported almost everyday in our local printing media. There are some particular matters (such as dowry, female childbirth, ill fortune of husband etc) with which women have to encounter some bitter experiences. There are some natural phenomena that are beyond the control of the human kind, but wives are held to be responsible for such matters for which neither the husband nor the wife has anything to do. There are some wretched parents in the society who tend to take the eligible son as a means of acquiring money and property by way of matrimonial alliance. And they take a good amount of dowry from the other party. This is the dark picture of our society. As majority of the population of this country is Muslims let us examine the position of Islam about the matters mentioned above. This will pave the way for us to judge our society in the light of Islam.

Dowry: In Islam it is incumbent on the husband to pay the wife a deferential marriage gift that is sine qua non for the marital relation. Allah says, "And give the women (on marriage) their dower as free gift…." (Al-Qur'an: 4:4). Ironically enough we notice a reverse practice in our society where the father of the bride always remains afraid of the greedy demand of his counterpart who triggers a possessive eye to him. The situation has attained at such a stage that to be the parents of an eligible son seems to be a matter of great fortune and honor and to be the parents of an eligible girl has become a matter of financial disadvantage, loss of property and a matter of humiliation.

In the rural area it is seen that situation compels many fathers of daughters to sell their land property or some other assets to satisfy the unscrupulous demand of dowry from the part of groom and his parents. Many parents and brothers of marriageable girls are seen to solicit financial help to give their daughters/ sisters in marriage. Moreover, even a handsome payment of dowry to the husband does not ensure the success of marriage or the happiness of the bride. Because such covetous husbands go on making their demand even after the marriage and take the marital bond a matter devoid of mutual love and respect. Almost everyday we see in the printing media that some wives are persecuted and physically tortured by some reprobate and boorish husbands who pester them to bring in more and more money and property from their parental home. And if the wife disagrees or is unable, in most cases, the result is physical torture or dissolution of marriage and, in few cases, murders.

Bad omen: In many places women are thought to be objects of good or bad omen. If the husband can earn his livelihood well or if everything is OK in the family then the wife is considered a good one and she can lead a normal life and is saved from bad remarks. But if the husband fails to be successful in his pursuits of livelihood or in gaining promotion in job etc. then everyone in the family blames the hard circumstances on the wife and she is marked with the taint of bad omen. Islam teaches us not to believe in any omen let alone woman. Our beloved Prophet (SAWS) says, "There is no infectious disease nor bad omen, but I like good augury. The companions asked him, "What is a good augury?" He (SAWS) answered: A good word. (Bukhari & Muslim) (Riadus-salehin; Hadeeth no. 1674)

It is the strong belief of every Muslim that whatever good or bad befalls us comes from Allah and no human being is liable for an undeserved misfortune and nor any human intervention can change the course of natural happening. We the human beings only pray: "O Allah! From Thee alone comes good and Thou alone can repel evil. There is no strength to resist evil nor power to do good except through Thee." (Abu Daud; Riadus-salehin Hadeeth no.1676) In fact, all power and all goodness are in the hands of Allah. Allah says, "If Allah touches thee with affliction, none can remove it but He; if He touches thee with happiness, He has power over all things" (Al-Qur'an: 6:17). So it is tantamount to blasphemy to blame woman or man for bad luck or ill fortune.

Female childbirth: Another dark reality of our society is that there are many parents who fail to welcome the birth of the female child. Recurrent female childbirth often causes inhuman torture on wives by husband and humiliation by others. There are some couples who take the risk of further issue only to have the chance of having a son and there are some husbands who take more wives only to father a son. They tend to take the matter in such a way that to be a father of son is prestigious and to be a father of a daughter is disgraceful. Childbirth seems to be considered a matter devoid of filial love and affection and sons are thought more useful and beneficial and the daughters are thought burden. Such notion about childbirth was prevalent in many periods of history before the advent of Islam among the pagan Arabs. The Qur'an vehemently condemns such attitude towards daughters and states, "When news is brought to one of them of the birth of a female child his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief. With shame does he hide himself from his people, because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain it (the female child) on (sufferance) and contempt or bury it in the dust? Ah! What an evil choice they decide on?" (Al-Qur'an: 16:58-9). And it is because of this perverted attitude towards daughters that female infanticide was common among them.

In our society also such negative attitude is prevalent among many parents. And this attitude is conceived in the guise of social plausibility in an implicit way. In the spiritual world (hereafter) the victim herself (dumb here) will be asked to give evidence that she had committed no crime and that she had been innocent. The Qur'an proclaims, "When (in the Day of Judgement) the female infant buried alive is questioned-for what crime she was killed?" (Al-Qur'an: 81:8-9). It indicates that similar thing is supposed to happen in the case of the female child who is underestimated on the ground that she is a girl and not a boy.

It should be made clear that the matter of childbirth is absolutely subjected to the will of Allah (SWT) and no human intervention can change the gender of any issue. Neither the husband nor the wife has anything to do in selecting the gender of the would-be-child. Allah says that "To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and earth. He creates what He wills (and plans). He bestows (children) male or female according to His Will (and Plan). Or He bestows both males and females, and He leaves barren whom He wills: For He is full of knowledge and power." (42: 49-50).

The essence of Islamic teachings in this regard is that every parent should be ready to welcome the birth of his/her child without the least discrimination of its sex. Son should not be preferred as human person to daughter. Islam prohibits any sorts of unfairness or inequity between the children on the basis of sex in taking care of them or in giving them affection or gifts. A prophetic tradition is likely to clarify this assertion: Hazrat Nu'man bin Bashir (RAA) says that his father took him to the holy Prophet (SAWS) and said, "I have a slave whom I have gifted to this son of mine." The Prophet (SAWS) inquired: Have you made a similar gift to each of your children? He said: No; whereupon the Holy Prophet (SAWS) said: Then take back (this gift). Another version of this Hadeeth says: The Holy Prophet asked: Have you done this (favor) to each of your children? He answered: No. The Prophet (SAWS) then said: Fear Allah and be fair to your offspring. Nu'man says, "My father then came back and rescinded this gift. Yet another version says that the Prophet (SAWS) asked: O Bashir (Nu'man's father) have you other children beside this one? He answered: Yes. The Prophet then asked: Have you given (a slave) to each of them? He answered: No. The Prophet (SAWS) said: Then do not make me a witness for I do not want to be a witness for an injustice (cruelty). One more version says: Do not make me witness for an injustice.

Another version relates the Hadeeth that the Prophet (SAWS) said, "Do you like that all of your children may behave equally well towards you? My father said: Yes. The Prophet (SAWS) then answered: Then don't do injustices now. (Bukhari and Muslim) (Riadus-salehin Hadeeth no. 1773)

We also find it common in our society that there are some parents who very unashamedly make discrimination and iniquity in bringing up their sons and daughters and even in offering them food and clothing. They tend to create in the person of the son a sense of superiority and in the person of the daughter a sense of inferiority. Whereas our beloved Prophet (SAWS) said, "Whoever had a daughter and did not bury her alive, nor insult her, nor favor his son over her, Allah will admit him into Paradise."

Conclusion: So what we need is the change of this attitude and the spread of the proper teachings of Islam to eradicate this mistaken notion about the daughters. The position of women as it is present in the normative teachings of Islam should be clarified before the people. It should not be forgotten that all men and women have the same kind of soul and they are of the same origin; they are of the same family of Adam and Eve: "O mankind! Reverence your Guardian Lord, Who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate, and from twin scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. Reverence God, through Whom you demand your mutual (rights). And reverence the wombs (that bore you): For God ever watches over you." (Al-Qur'an: 4:1). And Allah has conferred honor to both the sexes without making any discrimination: "We have honored the children of Adam…." (Al-Qur'an: 17:70).

by Md. Mahmudul Hasan

Polygamy and Islam

Polygamy, that is the practice of a man of having more than one wife, has existed in human community for a time immemorial. Polygamy in various forms existed in ancient India, pre-Islamic Arabia, Europe, and Britain and in the pacific islands. Sometimes polygamy was socially recognized and religiously accepted. This is evident in the fact that early Jews and Christians were known to practice it. Another more subtle kind of polygamy was practiced, and still is, where men had extra-marital affairs with women in secret. Historical records clearly show that these occurred before the 5th century CE, i.e. before the advent of Islam. Hence it logically does not follow that Islam introduced polygamy and was the first to declare it socially and religiously lawful. What Islam did do was to give it a just and harmonious form so that one can resort to it when necessary in order to prevent certain social evils and at the same time satisfy biological as well as social demands. Islam did this by imposing on polygamy certain rules and restrictions. In the Holy Qur'an, Allah says, "Marry women of your choice two, or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to treat justly with them, then only one…That will be more suitable to prevent you from evil."

From this we can infer that if a Muslim man has to marry more than one wife, he must meticulously treat all his wives equally and equitably. If he is unable to do so, polygamy is not permissible for him in any way. Thus polygamy, if practiced in the Islamic way, eliminates unfair treatment of the man towards his wives, and hence minimizes jealousy between them. No other form of polygamy is defined by such just rules as in Islam. This makes non-Islamic polygamy an institution-giving rise to familial disharmony and dissatisfaction among the wives.

In another verse of Surah Nisa it is said that man cannot treat his wives equally. Some people may choose to infer from this verse that the Qur'an indirectly prohibits polygamy, as this ayat (verse) seems to contradict the earlier one. However, this would be a misunderstanding of the Qur'anic verses. This is because in the former verse permitting polygamy, the equal treatment of the wives means that they should receive equal shares of their husband's marital properties and his time. In the later verse, equal treatment means to have exactly equal feeling for the wives. A study of psychology shows that feelings of love and affection cannot be mathematically divided into equal parts. Feelings are hard to divide and are not under the control of a person. On the other hand, it is possible for a man to give equal sums of money to his wives, arrange for them to live in equal standards of comforts and luxury and spend equal periods of time in their company. This reasoning shows that the two verses do not contradict and in effect make polygamy lawful.

Reasons for permitting polygamy:

The Qur'anic verses regarding polygamy were originally revealed after the battle of Uhud, in which many men were killed and the ratio of women to men drastically increased. If we scrutinize this circumstance with an open mind, it will be manifest to us that Allah (SWT), out of His mercy, permitted polygamy not only for the pleasures of men, but also for the benefit and convenient of women. If we study history comprehensively, we will notice that there was hardly any epoch in the history of human civilization when there was no war in the world! There has always been war in fact not one, but several wars big or small, taking place simultaneously too in various parts of the world. There are some people who tend to argue that as Islam permitted polygamy during the aftermath of battle, it should not be practiced at any other time when conditions are peaceful. I would urge them to reflect upon the current happenings and the problems of the world and then justify the validity of their logic before they presume to put forth their arguments against polygamy. Moreover, the crises following the war is not the only reason to make room for polygamy though the verse regarding the issue was revealed soon after the war of Uhud. There are some other important reasons and phenomena that rationalize the necessity of polygamy. The fact is that the aftermath of the battle of Uhud badly invites a divine revelation about the then social condition.

Usually it is men who are given the hazardous and dangerous tasks in a human society, as they are fit for it. And as men have to encounter the critical situation like war, they have a greater mortality rate in comparison to women. Accidents in factories, in traffic etc claim the lives of men more than those of women. Hence in any society, demographically, the total number of women exceeds that of men. If the polygamy were forbidden, these women would be left with a few undesirable options-they could remain unmarried and childless, or they could indulge in illicit affairs and have illegitimate children. This would invariably require some married men to commit infidelity, which would in turn disrupts their family-life in the one hand and disturbs the lives of their wives and children on the other. Moreover, the illegitimate children of the illicit association will suffer from lack of sufficient care and the want of a dutiful father. This problem can be avoided only by resorting to polygamy, where the man is required to recognize all his wives and their children, and perform his duties towards them equally. In this case, all the wives are given social honor and the children will enjoy a father.

There are also some personal reasons for polygamy. In giving an example under which a man may desire to have more than one wives, Dr. Jamal Badawi says: "If a young man of 20's who is happily married and has two children, suddenly finds that his wife has contracted a serious illness (mental or physical) or has met with an accident which makes her incapable of sharing intimate relations as before, what alternatives would be open to him?

he could try to control his instinctive needs for the rest of his life if necessary-something not all men would find easy;
he could keep his wife, but at the same time engage in illicit relationships with mistresses;
he could divorce his wife in her time of need and re-marry;
he could marry a second wife who would satisfy his needs, be a mother of his children and an aid in the task of caring for the wife: the only solution which would meet the criteria of morality, practicality and kindness, all in one."
Sometimes a man may desire a woman other than his wife, but not wish to divorce his wife to marry the other woman. Or may be his wife may not want a divorce. This problem may lawfully be solved if the man takes the new woman as his wife. This will also prevent extramarital affairs. If the first wife does not agree to this arrangement, she may get a divorce. In this way polygamy can be seen not only as a right of man but also a right of women. In such an arrangement, all women are given a right to marry, enjoy a husband and have legitimate children who are provided for. But the conditions of resorting to polygamy should be fulfilled in every respect. The things to be taken into account before going to polygamy are the financial ability of the husband, his sincerity to make equitable justice to all his wives, his biological potentiality etc. In fact, as far as Islamic law is concerned, it can be termed as "conditional polygamy" and not polygamy in an unbridled way. The consent of the first wife is always encouraged in Islam. Her rights and the terms and conditions of the marriage with her should not be violated when marrying another woman. On the other hand the woman to be married as the second wife should duly be informed that she is entering into marriage with a man who is already married. Any concealment from the part of the man taking her as second, third, or fourth wife on the one and the discontent from the part of the woman to be married on the other hand will make the marriage null and void. Thus in Islam the right of both the first wife and following ones is preserved in the law of polygamy.

Reasons for prohibiting polyandry:

Sometimes a question is raised why women are not given the right to have more than one husband at a time and why only men are given this right. Though such question is absurd and shameful, I think it necessary to clarify the matter. The first thing, which I should mention in this respect, is that prohibition against women taking more than one spouse is common almost in every civilization of past and present. And Islam didn't invent it. The practice of polyandry is, in fact, rare in the annuls of world history. Some of the reasons why polyandry is rare are as follows: Firstly, it creates the problem of the identity of the offspring. Since a woman can bear only one child, if she is married to more than one man, there would be no knowing who the father of each of the children is. Secondly, if there are more than one wife under a husband, the relationship between the wives will not exceed the limit of jealousy. But if there are more than one husband of a woman, the rivalry between the husbands will cause violence because the male generally wants leadership in the family. Thirdly, psychologically women are more monogamous than men are and their feelings tend to concentrate more on one subject. So polyandry is against the nature of woman.

by Shakila

The writer is an A-Level student

Divorce in the Light of Islam

Our beloved Prophet (SAWS) says that the most detestable act that Allah has permitted is divorce. In fact, Islam does not encourage divorce. Prior to the advent of Islam, there were two extreme views regarding divorce. In some societies and religious doctrines, divorce could be sought only on the death of one of the spouses or when adultery had been alleged and after divorce neither spouse was permitted to remarry.

In some other societies, it was very easy to break the bond of marriage and no check was there against the abuse of the practice of divorce. It is noticeable that, in the present world also, in some states of the USA it is possible to divorce, get remarried and then divorce again whimsically within the space of one day. (Source: Islamic Teaching Course, Vol.3, by Dr. Jamal A. Badawi). In fact the consequence of both the over-restriction and the over-liberalization is harmful. In the case of the over-restriction, i.e. to keep an unsuccessful marriage intact, there occurs a permanent bitter and hostile relation between the husband and wife. Whereas in the case of the over-liberalization, the family as an institution disintegrates and the society as a whole suffers. In contrast to these extremes, Islam takes a moderate view on divorce. In order to remove the misery of an unsuccessful marriage, Islam supports divorce as the last and final resort only to liberate both the spouses from the bitterness of the relation. And in Islam divorce can only be pursued when all other avenues have been taken to reconcile the couple but have come to no avail.

In fact, Allah (SWT) has given us the laws keeping the nature of human beings, with all their capabilities and limitations, in His mind. Verily it is in Allah's mind that husband/wife, being prompted by anger or haughtiness, can take an unpremeditated reckless decision regarding divorce. Hence Allah promulgates a long process of ninety days by three consequent steps of divorce and the spouse can change his/her decision within this period.

Ours is a society where there is an awful misunderstanding about the issue of divorce. If the husband utters Talak or divorce three times in the same breath, it is considered an irrevocable divorce and there remains no chance of reconciliation between the couple. And under this strict view, which is not supported by many classical and the modern Islamic scholars, many families are broken and the women and children are mostly affected. According to the view supported by many modern Islamic scholars, three or more utterances of divorce at a time are regarded as only one Talak (divorce). But, according to all scholars, to utter such number of divorce at a time is not encouraged in Islam and the person who pursues this undesirable system will be considered sinful. If it is held to be irrevocable and the final divorce, then the option offered by Allah to take back one's wife within 90 days becomes frustrated. In consequence the rate of the dissolution of marriage increases and, as a matter of course, more women and children will be helpless.

However, the competent Islamic scholars should remove, whatever may be the legal position, the misconceptions about Talak. If all the reverend Imams of the mosques in the country take the lead in the matter and start a social movement so that none gives 3 Talak at a time, it will be a big step forward.

Some people raise the question regarding the right of wife to pronounce divorce in Islam and many misunderstandings are there in our society centering this issue. In Islam woman is deprived in no respect and any question of injustice or anti-woman bias is inconceivable as Allah (SWT), the Lawgiver, is independent of any consideration of sex. In Islam wife is fully entitled to initiate or pronounce divorce though the procedure is different from that of her husband. If the husband is missing for a certain period of time or an indefinite time, or if he suffers from a fatal incurable disease, or if he is sexually impotent, and in some other cases and circumstances, the wife is given every right to initiate divorce. Moreover, if she suffers unhappiness, misery or incompatibility with her husband, then also she can do it with the intervention of court. There is another system of dissolution of marriage by the woman that is called "Khula" through which the wife can get separation from husband by returning the marital gift or part of it. It is not necessary that she should have a definite ground for pursuing Khula. Thus we see that both the husband and the wife can initiate divorce in Islam though the procedure is different.

The husband seems to be given the right to practice divorce arbitrarily; but this is not really so. In pursuing divorce the husband encounters financial disadvantages as he married his wife by giving her mohr (marital gift) and he is bound to give it to his wife at the time of dissolution of marriage if it is unpaid yet. Moreover, he will have to pay mohr for the second time if he wants to get married again. To make my point clearer, herein, I am quoting Dr. Jamal A. Badawi, a prominent Islamic scholar of the present time. He says, "Although both husband and wife suffer as a result of a divorce (psychologically for instance), a man has the additional burden of a heavy responsibility. He loses the whole of marriage gift, the wife is entitled to maintenance whilst in the waiting period (which can be as little as three months or as much as nine months); she is entitled to child maintenance if young children are in her custody; according to some jurists she would also be entitled to a consolation maintenance for a year etc. The fact that a husband who has so much to lose financially if he divorces his wife acts as a natural deterrent from abusing his right of divorce. If Muslim women had such a right, however, there would be no such check on them because they do not have any financial responsibilities towards their husbands." But it does not mean that Islam does not give the wife the right to break the marital bond when she wants so. It only checks the abusing of such right.

Discussing the conditions under which a wife can unilaterally divorce her husband without seeking the court's approval, Dr. Jamal A. Badawi pointed two situations:

"Delegated Repudiation, where at the time of marriage or afterwards, the husband transferred his unilateral right of divorce to his wife; and
Conditional Repudiation, where at the time of the signing of the marriage contract, the wife stipulated certain conditions to her husband, the breach of which would result in a divorce. "
The grounds on which a wife can seek divorce from her husband in the courts are:

Inability or refusal of the husband to maintain his wife (even if she happens to be rich, it is still the full responsibility of the husband to maintain her).
Abuse / mistreatment (which includes beating and swearing, cursing and attempting to force her to do wrong).
Impotence of her husband (in recognition of the wife's legitimate instinctive needs).
Incurable, repulsive disease in the husband or insanity.
Extended absence or desertion by the husband:
If his whereabouts is known, he is given the chance to return to his wife before the divorce takes effect;
If his whereabouts is unknown, a six-month or one-year waiting period is placed on the wife. If the husband fails to return, the wife is divorced from him.
Imprisonment of the husband.
Deception or concealment of important information at the time of the marriage.
"There are two methods of divorce by mutual consent:

Mubarra, where husband and wife mutually agree to release each other from the marriage vows-they also agree among themselves the financial and other conditions for the release;
Self-redemption (Khula), where, if the wife is unhappy with the conduct of her husband and has genuine grievances which she fears will cause her to fall into error if she continues in the marriage, then she obtains separation by returning her husband's marriage gift in return for the dissolution of the marriage. Conditions that should be observed when using Khula method of divorce are
There must be a genuine reason for seeking divorce
Dissolution may be imposed on the husband if he refuses to let his wife go
No husband may pressurize his wife into asking for Khula so that he can regain the marriage gift; and
This form of dissolution can take place at any time."
"So the lack of an unconditional unilateral right of divorce does not prevent a wife from seeking divorce from her husband, if she has good reasons for it, in any of the ways described above."

It is true that, in most cases, the rural wives are deprived of the right to divorce (and also of many other social, political and religious rights). It is because of the failure of the governments of the Muslim countries and the leaders to educate them and inform them of their rights. The system of Khula Talak is not cumbersome as termed by some people of inadequate knowledge about Islam. It is a very easy procedure and the people should be informed about and be educated in it.

The guardians and the leaders of the Muslim Ummah should deem it their religious and moral responsibility to launch a social movement in order to establish the proper right and dignity of womenfolk. Allah (SWT) has enjoined it on us to strive for the cause of the oppressed men, women and the children. (Ref. Al-Qur'an 4:75).

by Md. Mahmudul Hasan

Verses on Divorce

"When you (men) divorce women, divorce them keeping in view 'Iddat' (prescribed period of waiting) and reckon the period, and fear Allah your Lord. Expel them not from their houses, nor shall they themselves leave unless they are guilty of open lewdness. Such are the limits (imposed by Allah); and whoso transgresses Allah's limits, he verily wrongs his soul." (65:1).

"And for such of your woman as despair of menstruation, if you have doubts, their period (of waiting) shall be three months, along with those who have it (menstruation) not. And for those who carry (child in their wombs) their period of 'Iddat' shall be till they deliver their burdens." (65:4)

"Divorced woman shall wait keeping themselves apart three (monthly) courses. And it is not lawful for them that they should conceal that which Allah has created in their wombs, if they are believers in Allah and the last Day. And their husbands have the better right to take them back in that period, if they wish for reconciliation. And they (the women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in a just manner. And men are a degree above them (women) and Allah is Mighty, Wise." (1:228)

"And when they have fulfilled their prescribed term, take them back on equitable term, and keep your testimony upright for Allah…." (54:2)

"And when you have divorced women and they fulfil their term of 'Iddat' either take them back on equitable term or set them free on equitable term. And retain them not to inflict harm unto them so that you transgress the (limit). He who does that does wrong his (own) self…." (2:231).

"And when you divorced women and they fulfil the term of their 'Iddat' do not prevent them from marrying their (former) husbands if they mutually agree on equitable term…." (2:232).

"(This) divorce is (permissible) twice: after that the parties should either hold together on equitable terms, or separate with kindness. And it is not lawful for you (men) to take back any of your gifts (from) your wives which you have given them, except when both parties fear that they would not be able to keep the limits ordained be Allah…." (2:229).

"And if he (husband) has divorced her (the third time) then she is not lawful unto him thereafter except in case she had wedded another husband (and been divorced again). In that case there is no blame on either of them if they reunite, provided they feel that they can keep the limits ordained by Allah." (2:230).

"And if you decide to take one wife in place of another, even if you had given the latter a whole treasure for dower, take not the least bit of it back. Would you take it back by slander and a manifest wrong?" (4:20).

"For divorced women maintenance should be provided on a reasonable (scale). This is duty on the righteous." (2:241).

"Lodge them (women in Iddat) where you dwell according to your means and harass them not so as to straighten their circumstances. And if they are with child, then spend for them till they deliver their burden. Then if they give suckle (to the child) for you, give them their due payment and consult together in kindness, but if you make difficulties for one another then let some other woman give suck on behalf of the child." (65:6).

"Let the man of means spend according to his means; and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him." (65:7).

"There is no blame on you if you divorce women before consummation or the fixation of their dower, but bestow on them (a suitable gift), the wealthy according to his means, and the poor according to his means; a gift of reasonable amount is due from those who wish to do the right thing." (2:236).

"And if you divorce them before consummation, but after the fixation of dower for them, then the half of the dower (is due to them) unless they remit it or is remitted by him in whose hands is the marriage tie and remission is the nearest to righteousness. And do not forget liberality between yourselves." (2:237).

"O you who believe! When you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them, no period of Iddat have you to count in respect of them. So give them a gift and set them free in a handsome manner." (33:49).

"If a woman fears ill treatment from her husband or desertion, it is no sin for them twain if they make terms of peace between themselves. Such settlement is better. But man's minds are swayed by greed." (4:128).

"For those who take an oath for abstention from their wives awaiting for four months is ordained; then if they change their minds, surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." (2:226).

"As for those women from whom you fear disloyalty, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and beat them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them." (4:35)

"And if you fear a breach between them twain (the man and the wife) appoint an arbiter from his folk and an arbiter from her folk. If they desire amendment Allah will make them of one mind." (4:35).

After the pronouncement of divorce, 'Iddat', prescribed period of waiting has to be observed. The duration of 'Iddat' has been categorically stated in verses 65:4 and 2:228.

The pronouncement of 'Talaq' means that a decision has been taken and expressed publicly in words. This means the beginning of a temporary state of separation. After the pronouncement of divorce the husband and the wife are required to live apart in the same house till the expiry of 'Iddat'; the wife must not be expelled from the house nor should she leave the house unless she is guilty of open lewdness (65:1). During the period of 'Iddat' if the husband changes his mind they can live together (as husband and wife, if already three talaqs have not been pronounced and in that event the earlier-Editor) pronounced divorce will be anfractuous; in case the wife does not desire reconciliation, in such situation, the wife should be persuaded to agree.

Divorce will become substantive immediately on the expiry of 'Iddat'. After that the husband has either to take her back on equitable term or part with her on equitable term, and in both the cases there should be two just witnesses (65:2). Here taking her back in the presence of witnesses means "remarriage" and such remarriage has been categorically mentioned in verse 2:232. The relatives and the other members of the community have no right to prevent the divorced woman from such marriage with her former husband.

On the expiry of Iddat the husband has to decide quickly whether he wants to remarry his divorced wife; he must not retain her with the intention of inflicting harm unto her, and should set her free on equitable term.

Thus we find that the effective divorce has 3 parts:

Pronouncement of divorce;
Observation of Iddat and
Setting the divorced woman free on expiry of Iddat.
The procedure for complete separation may be as follows:

After the pronouncement of Talaq for the first time the term of Iddat must be allowed to be fulfilled and after that if the husband does not like to remarry her he has to set her free on equitable term in the presence of two witnesses; which means complete separation between the husband and wife. On the other hand if the husband remarries his divorced wife they can live together. If later the husband decides to get rid of her, he can pronounce a second talaq and on such pronouncement the required Iddat has to be observed and when the term of Iddat is over, he can, if he so desires, marry her again in the presence of witnesses and start living together (as husband and wife-Editor) again. After that, if he pronounces talaq for the third time, he can not marry her again unless she has wedded another husband (2:230) and gets divorced or becomes widowed. This provision has been criticized by the western scholars; they maintain that if the divorced woman wants her former husband why should she be compelled to lead conjugal life with another unknown person. The reason for such provision is not far to seek. The divorce should not be taken lightly; of all permissible things this is most disliked by Allah. For that reason Qur’an has made divorce rather difficult. The husband and the wife has been allowed to two chances (over a period three months) to settle their discord and achieve reconciliation, but, they have failed to do so. There must be something basically wrong with them which none of them can amend; they had been leading a miserable conjugal life. Marriage of the woman elsewhere after the third divorce gives a chance to her to embark on a new conjugal life, which may prove happy and satisfying to her. If, on the other hand, here also maladjustment mars their married life and separation takes place, the Qur'an has permitted her to be wedded to her former husband after the necessary formalities of divorce from the second husband.

The practice of pronouncing two or three talaqs at a time before and the practice of remarriage after the third talaq putting up a mere show of marriage, and divorce from a second husband, in the opinion of the author, are not in keeping with the Qur'anic injunctions.

It is to be noted that whenever a serious discord between husband and wife comes to light for the first time, it is the duty of the relations and community leaders to take a preliminary step towards reconciliation by appointing "an arbiter from his folk and an arbiter from her folk". (4:35)

Before concluding this chapter the sentence in verse 2:229 "It is not lawful for you to take back any of your gift (from wives) which you (husband) have given them (wives) except when both parties fear that they would not be able to keep the limits ordained by Allah" merits elucidation.

The qualifying clause "except when both parties fear that they would not be able to keep the limits ordained by Allah" signifies that it will be lawful for the husband to take back a gift earlier given by him to his wife only under special circumstances. The phrase to take back obviously does not mean snatching away but implies that wife gives back the gift (or a part thereof) of her own volition with a definite purpose.

Now let us consider the special circumstances mentioned above; the verse has qualified it by stating that "when both parties fear that they would not be able to keep the limits ordained by Allah". Use of the word "fear" implies that there is a lurking sense of remorse and helplessness on the part of both the husband and the wife because they are not being able to keep the limits ordained by Allah. By way of illustration, let us consider a case where couple is not pulling on well together, the wife feels that she has been grievously wronged and all the time suffering terrible mental agony. She is not in a position to fulfil her obligations as a wife and keen to end marital relationship. On the other hand the husband is also unable to observe the limits set by Allah in discharging his duties towards his wife. He feels that under the circumstances he should set his wife free but is hesitant to divorce her because of the unpaid dower; he is in acute financial hardship and not in a position to pay it off. In consideration of this critical situation the wife can remit the unpaid dower and the husband is entitled to accept such remission that is such taking back of the gift. (In case of "Khula" mentioned in the verse 2:225 the wife can free herself and the husband can take back the Mohr paid by him. However, if the husband does not take anything it will be his grace-Editor)

by Ferdous Khan

Wife: Her Status and Rights in Islam

Like the rights and status of woman, the position of wife in Islam is also a subject of misconception in past history as in the modern world. Now-a-days Woman Day is observed all over the world and the main slogan is about woman's status and rights. But considering the result of such observance, a question arises "Does it elevate a woman's status or give her the desirable right?" West has made woman an object of enjoyment and fun, deceiving her in the disguise of Savior of Woman and thus her status is being degraded.

In Islam, the rights and status of a wife is described precisely in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. In fact, only Islam gives her the worthy and glorious position. A woman becomes wife through marriage. She has the right to select her partner. As marriage is a sacred contract the selection process before marriage must be considered carefully by the man and woman. Our Prophet (SAWS) said, "Do not marry only for the beauty, may be the beauty becomes the cause of moral decline. Do not marry even for the sake of wealth, may be the wealth becomes the reason of disobedience; marry rather on the ground of religious devotion and piety."

Prophet (SAWS) urged to consider four points before selecting a spouse. They are beauty, wealth, family status and piety. Piety should come before all other considerations. Here, both the partners are hoped to be pious and sincere followers of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Both will be respectful for the rights and status of each other. This perception plays an important role for a happy and successful marriage.

In the Holy Qur'an, Allah (SWT) points to marital bond as one of His signs and says, "Among His signs is that He has created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts). Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect." (30:21). A virtuous wife is always a source of tranquility, love and mercy, as we find these in the great Muslim lady like Khadijah (R.A), the first wife of the Prophet (SAWS). Allah says, "It is He Who created you from a single person, and made his mate of like nature in order that he might dwell with her in love…." (7:189).

The two verses mentioned above state the great purpose of marriage i.e. tranquility and highlights the equal position of man and woman as both of them are created from "a single person". In Surah Baqarah (2:187) it is mentioned that "they (wives) are your garments and you are their garments". The inward meaning of garment is peace and security. Abdullah Yousuf Ali comments on this verse "Men and women are each other's garments i.e. they are for mutual support, mutual comfort and mutual protection, filling into each other as a garment fits the body. A garment is also both for show and concealment."

The Prophet (SAWS) said in reply to a questioner who asked about the best form of wealth, "The best wealth is a tongue which is wet with the remembrance of Allah and a health which is thankful to Allah and a believing, pious wife who helps her husband to keep to the practice of his faith." The references above from the Qur'an and Sunnah upgrades the statues of a wife.

A wife is entitled some financial and non-financial rights from her husband. A short description is given below:

The husband should give his wife the marriage gift or Mohr and this will be her own property.
The wife will get full maintenance from her husband e.g. food, clothing, housing, education, recreation, medication etc.
Even if the wife is rich, she need not spend single penny for her husband or family. All these are the responsibilities of her husband.
The mutually agreed conditions signed during the marriage contract become binding on both the spouses.
She has also the right to divorce her husband if necessary.
She can go to the court if her husband fails to meet her basic requirements.
The husband and wife have mutual inheritance rights from the time of marriage.
There are some misconceptions regarding the rights of wife in Islam. It is due to the misinterpretation of some Qur'anic verses and some prophetic traditions. It is a matter of disgrace to mention that, we Muslims are now Muslims by birth, and we like to recite the Qur'an without imbibing the main essence from it. We need to make a great deal of study on the Qur'an and Sunnah. Lack of knowledge always results misunderstanding, misconceptions, chaos, and deprivation of human rights and deviation from the truth. Evidently it can even ruin one's faith.

In the matter of inheritance it may appear that a woman's share is unfair as she gets half of her male counterpart. However, in deeper study, it emerges that woman has been dealt with very fairly. As a wife she gets full maintenance and Mohr and inherits from her husband's property in case his demise is before her. These are her own property and definitely these are her unearned property. Whereas she is free of any financial responsibilities rather she is entitled to enjoy all her property without spending a single penny for the maintenance of the family, relatives or other dependents. On the contrary, the husband is ordained to bear the financial responsibilities of the family. And hence he needs more money and wealth to fulfil his commitment to his family and children and if he fails to carry out the duties he is going to be accountable to Allah and the Islamic society.

A misunderstanding is there encircling two verses of the Holy Qur'an. These two verses are as follows. "…. But men have a degree over them (wives). And Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise" (2:228). The other verse is that "Men are the Quwwamuna of women" (4:34). There are some people who translate the word Qawwamuna as superior which is an utter distortion of the meaning. In fact, the real meaning of the word is protectors and maintainers as Allama Abdullah Yousuf Ali and M. Pickthal and other famous Mufassirs translate.

The comment of Abdullah Yousuf Ali on the verse 2:228 is worth mentioning. He says, "The difference in economic position between the sexes makes the man's rights and liabilities a little greater than the woman's. Verse 4:34 refers to the duty of man to maintain the woman, and to a certain difference in nature between the sexes. Subject to this, the sexes are on terms of equality in law, and in certain matters the weaker sex is entitled to special protection." His comment on verse 4:34 is as follows: "Qawwam means one who stands firm in another's business, protects his interests and looks after his affairs; or it may be, standing firm in his own business, managing affairs, with a steady purpose." To make the matter clearer we can see verse 4:135 where the same word is used, " O you who believe! Stand out firmly (Qawwameena) for justice as witness to Allah…."

Dr. Hammudah Abdul Ati says in his book "Islam in Focus", "The degree (Darajatun) is usually interpreted by Muslim scholars in conjunction with another passage which states, inter alia, that men are trustees, guardians and protectors of women because God has made some of them excel others and because men spend of their means (4:340). This degree may be likened to what sociologists call "Instrumental leadership" or external authority in the household due to the division of labor and role of differentiation or superiority of one sex to the other."

The eminent scholar Mohammad Asad has translated this in "The Message of the Qur'an" as -Man shall take full care of woman with bounties which had been bestowed more abundantly…." He explains, "The expression "Qawwam" is an intensive form of "Qaim" (one who is responsible for or takes care of a thing or a person). This "Qama alal mar'a" signifies "He undertook the maintenance of the woman" or "He maintains her" (See Lane, vol.8 pg. 2995). The grammatical form of Qawwam is more comprehensive than Qaim and combines the concepts of physical maintenance and protection as well as moral responsibility.

It is clear that to be a true Qawwam is not an easy task as the husband is the maintainer, protector and has to stay with his wife in peace and spend time, wealth, energy and strength for the family. It is not an opportunity or privileges for a man but a heavy duty no doubt. Verse 24:33 emphasizes more on this point where financially handicapped male adults are asked to defer in the case of marriage until Allah gives them means out of His Grace and they are able to maintain the expenses of marital life.

In addition, the Qur'an says to take decisions through Shura or mutual consultation which is applicable in every sphere of our life starting from family life to state affairs. The verse reads "…who conduct their affairs by mutual consultation." (42:38).

So in the related Qur'anic verses there is no question of domination of man over woman per se. Hence a Qawwam cannot be a dictator, unjust, irresponsible or adamantine. On the other hand the wife is considered to be the queen of the family (according to a Hadeeth). So the wife, who rules the roost, has the authority over household matters. So the question of superiority of husband over wife cannot be raised and such question is really inconceivable. Moreover, Allah reminds us of our basic equality in the Holy Qur'an: "O Mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord Who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women" (4:1).

Our beloved Prophet (SAWS) said, "A woman is like a curved rib, so be kind and considerate to her." This is also a misunderstood Hadeeth. It is misinterpreted to describe woman to be of crooked nature, which is not correct. Dr. Jamal Badawi says, "…. The Prophet (SAWS) exhorts Muslims to make allowances for the natural temperament of their wives, to be tolerant to them and not forcibly change their natures. If one does not do this the rib would break, that is there would be divorce."

Family is the basis of Islamic society. A wife deprived of her proper rights can not play her proper role to form an ideal family. The society will lose its balance if the foundation of the family is weak and not rightly constructed. An Islamic family, more precisely an Islamic wife, provides prosperity, balance and care for the coming generation. So if we can ensure the proper right and status of wife and free her from all forms of persecution, we can hope for a better future of a sound and well disciplined generation.

by Mrs. Nasima Hasan

Mrs. Nasima Hasan is currently serving as President of Witness in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Woman: Her role in Society

Woman is the architect of the domestic life and her proper position in an ideal Islamic society should be very correctly realized. The duties of men and women in the society should be well defined. And woman should not be assigned with such duties that are injurious to her nor it is befitting for her to destroy the domestic life and take part in such activities, which may prove harmful to her own self and the family as well.

In the history of Islam we notice that women held an important and significant place. And in the recent history also, as in Iran, women are playing important and significant role even in state affairs. Nowhere in the normative teachings of Islam and in the ideal Islamic society, women are regarded as inferior to men. But it is a matter of regret that the west has spread misinformation and misunderstanding about the position of woman in Islam and thus done a great disservice to the cause of woman by distorting and misinterpreting the facts of the Islamic history. Probably all these misinterpretation did not come intentionally, but from failure of proper investigation, lack of proper spiritual judgement and the lack of proper realization of the teachings of Islam. It is a matter of happiness that many misunderstandings about the position of woman in Islam have been dismantled by the arduous intellectual efforts of some outstanding Islamic scholars. More effort is needed to accelerate this trend to have a new era free of all sorts of misunderstanding and misinformation. One of the major avenues where the difference between the approach of Islam and the West is seen is the question of the proper role of women in the society.

One stand that western thinkers take is that if woman is removed from civil and social work, the advancement in the field of modernization would be reduced to fifty percent and the progress of fifty years will take one full century. In fact, such argument has no reasonable ground. Because society is not a technical institution to produce one particular commodity. The progress of a society depends upon the participation of all the member of it in his or her respective field. And society has come into existence due to the association of various departments of human life. Some of these departments belong to men and some others to women. If these departments are abolished and all the members of society begin to do the same thing, the whole society will suffer disintegration. Hence, evolution of society means progress of every department to achieve the overall high standard of life. And this high standard of life covers the progress in morality, spirituality, economics, social integration, political system etc.

In Islam the welfare of mankind depends upon right thinking and right practice. It is sheer ignorance to degrade woman simply because she happens to be a woman, and man is considered heavenly creature because he happens to be a man. Islam has explained it in very clear words that human dignity results from piety and virtue. The subject is well answered by the Holy Qur'an:

"Whoever doeth right whether male or female, and is a believer, him verily We shall quicken with good life and We shall pay them recompense in proportion to the best of what they used to do." (16:97).

In fact, both man and woman have helped and cooperated with each other in the development of human life. Their union bas brought the civilization into existence. No nation and movement of the world can neglect either of them. If man and woman are responsible for the establishment of the authority of truth and its enforcement, they are equally responsible for the spread of vices in the world. The participation of both of them is important to make a better world. Mankind can not play its assigned role in this mundane world if its one half is paralyzed. Apparently we see the functioning of different organizations differently but in fact these organizations and institutions are the parts of the one single social set-up. A body of government runs the affairs of the country, the judiciary deals with justice, and municipalities look after the civic affairs of the city. Schools, colleges and universities impart education, and commercial organizations manage the trade and industries of the country. But all these organizations are governed by one social set-up. Similarly man and woman should be assigned to do their respective jobs. One should not undertake a job, which is not his/her natural function, neglecting his/her assigned duty.

Though Islam has emphasized the role of woman at her home, she has not been deprived of her right to participate in other organizational activities. On the contrary, Islamic society makes her a useful member of the society. Through acquiring education, she can become specialist in her respective field. She can become a doctor and serve people. She can become a teacher and impart education to her society. In short, she can participate in all activities of the society and choose her career. Islamic Shariah provides all facilities to woman to acquire knowledge. It intends to develop her mental faculty in order to make her a useful member of the society. Islam has emancipated woman from ignorance and made her position dignified and honorable. Urwah bin Zubair (RA) says about Hazrat Ayesha (RA): "Hazrat Ayesha (RA) knew more about the injunctions of the Holy Qur'an, poetry and literature, the history of Arabs and their hierarchy than any other persons."

The aim of Islam is to regularize the human activities in accordance with the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah. It forbids all unnatural and unlawful activities because it is the only way to eradicate evil from society. Hence, if the world wants real peace and happiness, it must adopt the principles of the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah. And Islam has given honorable status to woman in the human society and also granted them equal rights according to their natural requirements and human needs. There is no discrimination on the basis of sex in Islam.

by Ezabul Khalid

Women's Right and Islam

Traveling through the Islamic world, visitors notice that the status of women changes drastically from country to country. Westerners question why women in many Middle Eastern countries cover their heads and most of their bodies. They question the nature of freedom where women have very little political power or social clout.

In many cases, the differences are based on local custom only. Wearing veils (meaning covering head to foot), for example, is not required by the Koran but in some places is local custom. Other than Islam's requirement that women dress modestly, most Muslim women are free to dress or to behave like women of any other religion.

Historians note that, before the rise of Islamic culture in the 7th century, women in much of the world had few rights and were considered little more than chattel. Against that background, the Koran and Islamic tradition were positively revolutionary in teaching that men and women are spiritually equal and that women have the right to own and inherit property, seek divorce, gain an education, retain one's family name after marriage and the right to vote.

Muslims such as Rkia Comell, who teaches Asian and African languages and literature at Duke University, argue that "every culture is inherently sexist to some degree." Comell insists that, as a Muslim woman, she still has the freedom to control her own life. "Muslim women historically have had a strong role in Islamic society."

What some see as oppressive, Muslims view as protective. While Americans may regard a Muslim's attire as stifling, Muslims may view the way Americans women generally dress as sexist and compromising.

by Carolyn Ruff

*Excerpts from the article "Exploring Islam the World's Second Biggest Religion Also Is A Way of Life."
(Courtesy: The Washington Post, Wednesday, May 13, 1998, Page HO1)

Reflections: Does Islam discourages Women from attending the Masjid

As Islam is a universal religion, its call is directed to human beings generally. "O ye people" is the standard call addressed to everyone who understands it. No distinction whatsoever is made between the sexes. "So their Lord accepted their prayers (saying), I will not suffer the work of any worker among you to be lost, whether male or female, he (or she) being a believer, these will enter the Garden and they will not be dealt with unjustly." (Al-Nisa: 124). There are countless Qur'anic verses stressing the essential fact that human society is built upon the idea of the male and female pair and that both are equal partners on their own merits in their own fields. Where any distinction is made, it is a natural and not an imposed one, as, for example, the rule relieving a woman of certain religious duties during menstruation, thus lessening her distress.

The Mosque is for both Men and Women:

The general Islamic attitude is therefore that, if a mosque is essential for Muslims, it is essential for both partners, male and female. The Muslim community which attended the prayer at the mosque during the lifetime of the Prophet (PBUH) included both males and females. It is authentically reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said, "On many occasions I start the prayer with the intention of prolonging it and then shorten it on hearing the crying of a baby for fear of keeping his mother away from attending to him." The Prophet's (PBUH) Mosque had a number of doors. One day, the Prophet said, "If we could only leave this door for the ladies!" Ibn Omar, who was always very scrupulous in following the way of the Prophet (PBUH), was reported as not using this door from then on, leaving it for the purpose mentioned by the Prophet (PBUH).

Bearing in mind these incidents, together with the general Islamic attitude, it is obvious that free mixing between males and females is not encouraged in Islam. Islam stresses simplicity and decency in dressing, walking and talking and indeed in every aspect of life. Colorful or fancy kinds of dress, perfume or sexually attractive things or modes of talking are not welcome in public places where people gather, such as markets, offices or institutional buildings. How much more must this apply to the mosque! In the light of all this, Muslim jurists differ as to the desirability of Muslim women attending the Jummah (Friday) prayer at the mosque.

Al-Mughri, the standard Hanbali Fiqh, gives his views on the matter of the congregational prayer. After discussing the acceptability of the woman as imam for other women, he says the following. "It is allowed that they-women-attend the congregational prayers with men. For women used to pray with the Messenger of Allah (PBUH)." Aishah said, "Women used to offer their prayers with the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and then they dismiss, while wrapping their heads in their scarf, without being recognized because of darkness." And the Prophet (PBUH) said, "Do not stop the female servants of Allah from attending the Mosques of Allah but let them go there without applying perfumes." But prayer in her own house is best for her according to Abdullah ibn Omar, who reported that the Messenger of Allah said, "Do not prevent your women from (going to) the Mosques, though their houses are best for them." (Abu Dawud).

The best scholarly treatment of this subject is given in the voluminous book, Al-Muhalla by Ibn Hazam, who was called the "literalist" for his dependence upon the texts. He is described in his book of biography as "The great Imam, the traditionalist, the Faqeeh, the juror, the strong-in-argument, the renewer of the fifth Islamic century, the pride of Andalusia." In volume 3, problem or question number 321, he deals extensively with the question of women's attendance at mosques, covering all points of view and mentioning the weaknesses and strengths of each.

Modest dress:

I will follow his method, with exception of listing the chain of narrators which he, as a traditionalist, insists upon. He says, "It is not lawful for the guardian of the woman-father, husband, brother or whatever he may be-or the master of a slave girl to stop her from attending the congregation at the mosque once he knows that she wants to pray. And it is not lawful for them-women-to go to the Mosque while using perfume or in attractive clothes. If a woman does so, he is to stop her. Their prayer in the jamaat (congregation) is better than individual prayers. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Do not stop the female servant of Allah from (going to) the Mosques of Allah." Ibn Omar said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah say, "Do not prevent your women from (going to) the Mosques if they seek your permission to do so." His son Bilal said, "Surely we will stop them." He turned to his son, abusing him in a way I have never heard him do and said, "I tell you the saying of the Prophet (PBUH) and you say you will stop them."

Imam Muslim reported from Ibn Omar that the Messenger of Allah said, "Do not prevent women from (going to) the mosques at night." Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said, "Do not stop the female servants of Allah from (going to) the mosques of Allah but let them go in modest dress." Zaynab, the wife of Abdullah ibn Mas'ud said, "The Messenger of Allah said to us, 'If any one of you attends the Mosque, let her not touch perfume'." Jabir ibn Abdullah said that the Messenger of Allah said, "The best lines for men are the front ones and the worst are the back ones. The worst lines for females are the front ones and the best are the back ones. O ye Muslim women, if the male prostrate themselves, lower your gaze so as not to see their private parts." Omar ibn al-Khattab used to stop the males using the door reserved for females.

From these traditions of the Prophet (PBUH) and the attitudes of the companions, it is clear that, during this period, the golden era in Islamic history, it was natural for all the members of Muslim community to participate fully in every aspect of Islamic life, so long as it was a decent and constructive participation. This is clearly shown in many of the biographies of the female companions of the Prophet (PBUH). In their book, The Stories of Sahaba, of the Tablighi Jamaat, the author writes, "Ladies in the Khaibar Campaign; shoulder to shoulder with their men-folk, the ladies of those times, imbued with the same spirit of sacrifice, were striving heart and soul in the Path of Allah; and no service in this connection was too much for them." Ummu Zyad says, "In the Khaibar Campaign, I, along with five other women, reached the battlefield. The Prophet (PBUH), having learned this, sent for us. He said, with anger, "Who permitted you to come here? Who brought you to this place?" We said, "O Prophet of Allah, we know how to knit and we have medicines with us. We shall help the soldiers by supplying them with arrows, by attending them when they are sick and by preparing food for them. The Prophet (PBUH) permitted us to stay." (Page 164). This is just one example of how this first generation of Muslims allowed male and female to work hand in hand to build the newly formed Islamic society with the knowledge and encouragement of the Prophet (PBUH).

Origin of idea discouraging women attending the Mosque:

Then how did the idea of discouraging Muslim women from attending the mosque come about? We continue with Imam ibn Hazam, who tell us who were the advocates of the idea, what their arguments were and the refutation of such arguments.

He says, "Abu Hanifah and Malik said, 'Their prayers in their houses are better for them'." Abu Hanifah even disliked their going to the mosque for congregational prayer, the jummah prayer and the two feasts. He conceded for the elderly women the specific permission, to attend the night, Isha, prayer and the dawn, Fojr, prayer. It is also reported of him that he did not dislike their going out for the two feasts.

Imam Malik said, "We do not stop them going to the mosque" and he allowed elderly respectable women to attend the feasts prayer and the prayer for rain. He said, too, that the young could go to the mosque from time to time. As for the elderly, although they could go to the mosque, they should not go very often. (Vol.3 page 178). The authority upon which these jurists depend consists of three main traditions showing why it is preferable for women to offer their prayer at home rather than in the mosque. There is also another tradition prohibiting attendance at the mosque if the woman applies perfume. Ibn Hazan accepts the last point as he stated at the beginning when he said, "It is not allowed for them to go out while using perfume or dressed in fancy kinds of dress or bright colors."

This is in accordance with the traditions related by Abu Hurayrah, "Any woman who touches perfume should not attend our Isha prayer." And Zaynab, wife of Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud, said: "If any one of you wishes to attend the mosque with us, she should not touch perfume." (See Naylul-Awtar, Vol.3 pages 148-9).

But Ibn Hazam rejects very strongly the authenticity of two traditions while arguing against the third one, related to A'ishah. In discussing these with him, we shall point out whether his criticisms are fair or otherwise in the light of the comments in the text itself or through the criticism in Naulul-Awtar.

Main traditions:

The three main traditions in favor of women praying at home are as follows. Ibn Hazam says, "Those who disliked women going to the mosque depend on the saying of A'ishah, "If the Messenger of Allah had seen what the women innovated after him, he would have stopped them attending the mosques." The second is a tradition of Umm Humaid that the Prophet (PBUH) said, "Surely your prayer in your house is better than your prayer with me." And the third is the tradition of Abu Hurayrah, who said that the Prophet (PBUH) said, "For the woman to offer her prayer in her chamber is of greater merit than to offer it in her courtyard, in her courtyard than in the mosque of her people, in the mosque of her people than in the congregational mosque and in the congregational mosque than going out for prayer in Eid day." (Pages 179-80).

The above are the three main traditions mentioned by Ibn Hazam in favor of women praying at home. But if we look at Sahih Muslim Chap.167, Vol. 1, pages 240-241, we find that, of the three, only that of A'ishah is mentioned. The other two fail to satisfy Muslim's conditions of Sahih. Ibn Hazm will take up this point when he criticizes the authenticity of both of them.

No Islamic Basis to Discourage Women Attending the Mosque:

But let us first listen to what he had to say about A'ishah's judgement in this connection. It makes very interesting reading as it shows great insight on his part. He lived in Spain at a time when Islamic culture was flourishing and when that part of what used to be the Islamic world was making great strides in all aspects of scholarship. His literalistic attitude did not obstruct his rational enlightened attitude in considering the attendance of women at the mosque. He says, "What A'ishah (RA) says is of no authority for a number of considerations."

"First that Prophet (PBUH) did not see what they innovated, so he did not stop them. Anyone stopping them is himself innovating and as such it is wrong to stop them. The error is that it is an argument from a hypothetical case." We do not know any argument more silly than that of those who argue that if such-and-such happened, then such-and-such would follow. That is to make a fact out of something that did not happen.

"Second: Allah Most High certainly knew what the women would innovate. Anyone who denies that is a disbeliever. He did not at all reveal to His Prophet (PBUH) that he should stop them from what they would innovate. Neither did He reveal to him, "Tell the people that if women make innovations, prevent them from going to the mosques." Since Allah Most High did not do so, then clinging to such arguments is wrong and in bad taste." (Vol.3 page181).

Shamsul-Haqq answered, "It is really surprising for such eminent scholars to start building up probabilities and claiming this or that as special cases without sound proof for such probabilities. If everyone did this, we could all claim that such-and-such a rule is confined to such-and-such persons. We would end up in a very difficult situation. As for their saying that it is allowed for the predecessors but not for their successors, this is a claim without proof, for all the Muslim ummah is equal in matters of lawfuf (halal) and unlawful (haram) things, except those who were exempted by the Prophet (PBUH).

It was this same point which was not clearly appreciated by A. Siddiqi in his translation of Sahih Muslim when he handled this issue in Vol.1. Chap.167. Imam Muslim quoted the same hadith allowing women to go to the mosque in a decent manner. In his commentary on these hadith, (he quoted other hadith) and said, "Apparently there seems to be some contradiction between these groups of hadith, but the exposition given by the scholars of hadith, especially by Shah Wali Ullah of Delhi, resolves it altogether. The actual fact is that the women who had the good fortune to live during the lifetime of Muhammad (PBUH) had a deep longing to say their prayer under his Imamah as it was an enviable privilege for them. They, therefore, sought permission to join prayer in the mosque. Moreover, the moral atmosphere of that blessed period was quite congenial to the coming out of women from their houses and there was not even the slightest chance of indecency towards them. Under such conditions the Holy Prophet (PBUH) did not like to put any curb on their desire to join prayer in the mosque before daybreak and during night. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) could well visualize that moral conditions would change; therefore women were advised to say their prayers in their houses when there would be deterioration in the moral standards of the people in general."

He fell into the same intellectual trap of taking the changing times as a reason for changing to religious point of view. The imam Ibn Hazm answered his argument. Let us go on with his arguments. "Third: We do not Know what women innovated or did not innovate at the time of the Prophet (PBUH). There is nothing worse than adultery. This happened during the time of the Messenger of Allah and he ordered the lashing and stoning of those who committed this thing. But he did not stop women on that account from going to the mosque. The prohibition of adultery is equally enjoined on males and females, without differentiating. What, then, could make its existence a reason to stop women from going to the mosque but not men? This is the type of reasoning that is not acceptable to Allah and His Messenger (PBUH).

Fourth: Those who innovated were some of the women while no doubt there were others who did not. It is quite wrong to prevent good coming to those who did not innovate for the sake of those who did, except when there is a clear text either in the Qur'an or the Sunnah saying so, in which case we listen and obey. Allah Most High says, "And no soul earns (evil) but against itself. Nor does a bearer for burdens bear the burden of another." (Al-An'am: 164).

Fifth: If the innovation is the cause of stopping them from going to the mosque, it would be more appropriate to stop them from going to the market places or from visiting, but they did not stop them from those things.

Sixth: It is one of the great sins to abrogate a law-the Shariah-after the death of the Prophet (PBUH), without himself having abrogated it. It is even pure disbelief.

Seventh: There is no authority in the saying of anyone after the Prophet's (PBUH) saying.

As for the other two traditions, he relied upon suspecting the authenticity of one of the narrators in each hadith. In the first one, he says that Abdul-Hameed Ibn Al-Munthir is not known. This point is not accepted, as this tradition is one of many others on the same point-that the prayer at home is preferable to the one at the mosque. The same is said about Abdullah ibn Raja'Al-Ghudani the narrator of the tradition quoted earlier starting, "For the woman to offer her prayer in her chamber is better than to offer it in her apartment…." The criticism that these two narrators are not known, therefore, does not affect the authenticity of the traditions. The valid point here is that the other traditions ordering Muslims husbands and fathers to give the permission to women to go to the mosque are more numerous, more authentic and more reliable than the opposing one.

If we add to that the fact that Muslim women used to offer their prayers in the mosques in the time of the Prophet (PBUH) and the general agreement of all jurors that he never stopped them from doing so at any time in his life, we can feel quite rightly that the tradition practiced by the early Muslim community was for Muslim women to attend the mosque.

The presence of Muslim women in the mosque, the arrangement of the prayer times and the chapters written about these facts are to be found in every religious book. In his book, "Quamul-Layl" Al-Marwazi writes,
"An-Nakhaie said, "I used to call the Adhan and Iqamah and no one would be present to offer the prayer with me except an elderly woman (95)."
Abu Malik Al-Ashuri said to his people, "Shall I show you the prayer of the Messenger of Allah? Then he put them in lines, men first, then the young children, then the women." (101).
The Prophet (PBUH) used to stay in his place in the mosque for a little while after the prayer. The Companions who reported it said that this was to give the women a chance to leave first.

Omar ibn Al-Khattab, seeing a male and female making their ablutions from the same basin, separated them. Then he called the attendant and said, "Did I not order you to prepare a basin for the use of the women?"

We all remember the incident when Omar was preaching and advised people not to give a higher dowry for women or to ask for it. A Muslim woman in the mosque said to him in front of the whole gathering, "This is not for you." He said, "Why?" She replied, "Because Allah Most High said, 'And you have given one of them-as dowry-a whole treasure' (Al-Nisa- 20) without putting a limit to the amount: how can you limit the dowry? He answered, "All people are more judicious than you Omar! The woman is right and the man is wrong."

In the light of such reasoning, it would appear that the attitude of one who insists upon the barring women from the mosque is the attitude of a wholly ignorant and backward person, one who is limited in his perspective because of the lack of education, insight and understanding. He is clinging to a tradition of three to four hundred years of decadence and stagnation in Muslim ignorant, blind, retrogressive way of life, which has no sanction in Islam.

No differentiation:

But such a line of thought is not productive. After all, as Muslims we reason in the light of preserved traditions; the Qur'an and the Sunnah, not in the light of ever-changing situations. The facts of the Qur’an are that its message is a universal message without any differentiation between male and female regarding piety, observance of religious duty and religious obligations.

We have quoted enough traditions of the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions and other authorities to show clearly that women attended the mosque to the last minute of the life of Allah's Messenger without restriction or hindrance. The attitude of the vast majority of the Muslim jurors is not against women's attendance at the mosque. What the Qur'an and Sunnah enjoin upon women is a matter of conformity with the Islamic point of view. Women, as a matter of course, are bearers and rearers of children and suffer much physical distress. They nurse the sick and the elderly.

by S. M. Darsh

Courtesy: Da'wah Highlights, July 1997

A summary of The Islamic rulings regarding Women's dress: According to the Qur'an and Sunnah

About the author: Abu Bilal Mustafa Al-Kanadi was born in Italy on July 4, 1950. At his 4 he immigrated with his family to the Lakes District of northern British Columbia. In 1965 his family moved to Vancouver BC where he completed his secondary education. In 1968 he embarked in the BA program at the University of British Columbia, and he graduated in 1972 from the faculty of Arts with a major in English Literature.

During his final semester at S.F.U., he embraced Islam. Afterwards, in quest of Islamic education he traveled to Makkah during Ramadan of 1976 and performed Haj and entered the Arabic Language Institute at Umm Al-Qura University and completed the language program in two and a half years. In 1983 he graduated with honors in the field of Qur'anic and Hadeeth Sciences. In May 1989, he obtained a Master's Degree in Qur'anic Sciences from the same university. A few weeks later he passed away at the age of 39.

During his short span of life he wrote a number of treatises on various topics and was actively engaged in writing, translating and Dawah work. To make a human judgment, his premature death apparently seems to be a great loss for the Muslim Ummah. But we must submit to the Grand Design of Allah.

Summary of the book: The writer, at the outset of the treatise, gives a precious introduction where he deplores the fact that some Muslims have become lax in wearing dress and in the mutual relationship between man and woman. It is because of the blind imitation of the western life-style infiltrated in the Muslim countries. Against the western perverted culture the writer suggests us emulate 'Hishmah' which designates modesty, decency, honor, purity and chastity. In fact the paper is confined to an exposition of the Islamic dress code for the women. The paper is richly documented with the verses from the Holy Qur'an and the authentic Sunnah as well as the "dependable" views of the classical scholars.

Firstly the writer refers to the verses 24:30-31 that epitomizes the Islamic position of modesty and decency as far as the relationship between man and woman is concerned. The verses state: "Tell ( O Mohammad!) the believing men to lower their gaze and to guard their modesty. That is purer for them. Verily Allah is acquainted with all that they do. And tell (O Mohammad!) the believing women to lower their gaze and to guard their modesty, and not to display their adornments, except that which ordinarily appears thereof, and to draw their head veils over their necks and bosoms, and not to reveal their adornments except to their own husbands, or their fathers, or their husbands' fathers, or their sons, or their husbands' sons, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants free of physical desire, or small children who have no sense of women's nakedness. Let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they conceal of their hidden ornaments. And turn unto Allah altogether, O you Believers; in order that you may attain success."

The phrase "not to display their (women's) adornments, except that which ordinarily appears thereof" is a matter of interpretation and it is because of the differences in the interpretation that the scholars give diverse opinions to the extent to which a woman should cover her physical appearance. And in this respect the writer mentions the various interpretations of the classical scholars:

The Companion Ibn Mas'ood says that the "appearance of adornments" means woman's clothes and Ibn Jubair says it is her face. According to Sa'eed bin Jubair, Ata'a and Al-Awzaa'i the phrase means "The face, the two hands and the garments". The Companions Ibn Abbas, Qatadaah, and Al-Miswar bin Makhramah says, "By this phrase is meant the wearing of Kuhl (a black material powder used for darkening the eyelids or for medical purposes), bracelets, hand dye… and other things of that nature, which are permitted for a woman to wear and for others to see displayed on her."

A famous interpreter of the Holy Qur'an Al-Imam At-Tabari concludes, "The most correct of these sayings is that which states that the intended meaning is the face and the two hands. This is because there is agreement between this view and the others in which are mentioned Kuhl, rings, bracelets and hand dye. Indeed all of these latter things must necessarily appear on the face or on the two hands. We say that this is the most correct of the mentioned opinions because all of the scholars agree that every person must cover his/her awrah during salaah and that a woman is allowed to uncover her face and hands while praying (no matter even if 'strangers' see her while praying in this state); but she must cover other than these of two areas…. Thus if there is unanimous agreement between the Ulama regarding this matter, it is obvious that a woman may display of her body that which is not awrah, as is the case with a man; because it is not forbidden to display what is not awrah. Consequently since the woman is allowed to display the face and hands, it is obvious that this is the exception made by Allah, the Exalted in His saying: 'except that which ordinarily appears thereof'; because these are precisely the parts which appear exposed on the woman." (Quoted from Jami'I-Bayaan 'an Ta-weelil-Qur'an, vol. 18, pp. 118-119; published by Mustafa Al-Baabi Al-Halabi, Cairo, 1968.)

There is another opinion regarding this matter. Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal and a number of Shaafi'ee scholars are the proponent of this view. What they understood by the phrase "except that which ordinarily appears thereof" is as follows: The woman can't display any of her adornments whether natural or acquired like her jewelry, eye-show etc. But if it appears accidentally, she will be exempted from the blame. According to them a woman must try always to cover her body in front of a male stranger. However, a minority of the jurists conceive such view and it is also "not supported by the authentic narration of the Sunnah. Furthermore, it is in contradiction to the view held by the vast majority of the Islamic scholars." Imam Qurtubi says in this regard, "…since the face and hands are by habit and during worship (her salaah and her performance of hajj and Umrah) most often ordinarily displayed, it is most reasonable and befitting that what is meant by the exception to the rule mentioned in the phrase except that which ordinarily appears thereof is precisely the face and hands." The following prophetic tradition will make the matter clear.

"Aishah (R.) reported that Asmaa, her sister, entered into the presence of the Prophet (SAWS) wearing thin transparent clothing. So the Messenger (SAWS) turned away from her saying: O Asmaa' if a woman reaches the age of menstruation it is not allowed that any of her body should be seen except this and he pointed to his face and two hands." (Quoted from Al-Qurtubi's Al-Jaami fi Ahkaamil Qur'an)

The second Quranic verse that the writer discusses in regard to the topic is as follows: "O Prophet! Tell your wives and daughters and the women-folk of the Believers to draw their outer garments about themselves (when they go abroad). That is better, so that they may be recognized and not molested. And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." (Surah Ahzaab; verse 59).

There remain different opinions regarding the meaning of the Quranic word of the verse mentioned above "Jalaabeeb" ("outer garments"). Al-Haafidh Ibn Katheer mentions in his famous Tafseer that an outer garment is in effect the "rida'a" (a large piece of cloth; much larger than the ladies' usual headpiece). This is the view of the Companion Ibn Mas'ood and a number of Taa'been scholars like Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Qataadah, Ibraheem An-Nakha'I, Ata'a and others. In fact the purpose of the outer garment is to better cover the women's regular casual housedress which is normally not sufficient for wearing out in public.

The four famous schools of jurisprudence are basically divided into two opinions regarding the contention which part of the woman's body must be covered. The Maaliki and Hanafi are on the view that she can expose her face and hands to male strangers. On the contrary the Hanbali and the Shaafi'ee opine that a woman should cover the whole of her body including face and hands before male strangers. However, the former opinion (that of Maaliki and Hanafi) seems to be stronger according to the Hadeethes mentioned below:

Jaabir bin Abdullah said: I attended prayer on Eid day with the Prophet (SAWS). He commenced with the prayer, before the sermon, without any Adhaan or Iqaamah. Then he rose, leaning on Bilal and addressing those before him, commanded them to fear Allah and exhorted them to obey Him. He further admonished and warned them. Then he moved on until he came to the woman whom he addressed saying: "Give charity, for verily most of you are fuel of the hell-fire of Jahannam, whereupon there rose from the middle ladies' congregation, a dark-cheeked woman who said: "Why is that, O Messenger of Allah"? He replied: " Because you women make too many complaints, and you refuse to acknowledge your husbands' good treatment." Upon hearing this, the women began tossing their jewelry in charity upon Bilal's outspread cloth. (An authentic Hadeeth reported by Muslim, Nasaa'i and others).
Ibn Abbas reported that a woman came to the Messenger (SAWS) on the day of sacrifice, during his farewell hajj, seeking a religious verdict from him. Al-Fadl bin Abbas, a handsome man was Prophet's riding partner at the time…and he began to glance at the woman-, as she was beautiful-and she was too glancing at him. So Allah's Messenger (SAWS) upon seeing this grasped Al-Fadl's chin and turned his face in the other direction. In another narration Al-Abbas (Prophet's uncle) later asked him: O Messenger of Allah, why did you turn the neck of your cousin (i.e. Al-Fadl)? The Prophet's reply was: "I saw a young man and woman in such a situation that I feared what effect Shaitan might have upon them. (An authentic Hadeeth reported by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and other compilers of prophetic traditions).
In the first Hadeeth we have a proof that women used to keep their face open. Otherwise the narrator could not describe the woman as dark-cheeked. As regards the second Hadeeth, the woman's face is described as beautiful. If face were to be covered and hidden from view, the Prophet (SAWS) would not have allowed the woman to appear before him and the other men without veiling her face. (Face includes the forehead vertically down to the chin inclusive. Horizontally, it extends from ear to ear, not including them: for the ears are part of head, not the face. Thus the hair, ears, and neck are not part of face. The hands up to the wrist point not including the protruding wrist bone.)

In fact the purpose of the Sunnah is to clarify the Qur'an and so it has specified the matter of covering of the body of woman which appears ambiguous in the Qur'an.

"Finally, the fact that the vast majority of reputed scholars of this Islamic Ummah-from the earliest times up to the present-have been of the view which allows a woman to display only her face and two hands; this too is weighted evidence for its correctness and preference in regard to this issue." "The position we have taken is correctly proven balanced view, for it avoids the excessive fanaticism committed by some and the unfortunate inadequacy advocated by others. Excess is committed by those who stubbornly insist on the woman's whole body being covered, from head to toe, at all times. Inadequacy is the lot of those who claim that a woman can display more than her face and hands; e.g. the forearms, forelocks, ears, feet, etc."

Seven Conditions for the Acceptability of Hijaab: In way of conclusion the author defines some conditions to be fulfilled when pursuing Hijaab. And he is not dogmatic in the actuality of this numeration. Some may differ with him keeping the spirit of Islam intact. In fact Hijaab is a comprehensive term that implies the covering of woman's body, concealing her adornments and it also indicates the rules and etiquette that govern her behavior in relation to the opposite sex.

The first condition: A woman's clothing must cover her entire body excluding her face and two hands. This is the foundation of Hijaab and without which the following conditions are "invalid and useless."
Her clothing must not be so thin or delicate as to display the form, color, or skin of her body underneath it. Otherwise it will simply tempt and mislead the male strangers. The Prophet (SAWS) says in this regard, " There will be found amongst the latter day my people of my nation (Muslims), women who are dressed, but in reality naked (displaying skin color and the form of the body), their hair will be rolled in a bun at the tops of their heads like the camel's hump; curse them, for verily they are cursed." (Related by Al-Tabaarani with an authentic chain of transmitters.)
The clothing must be sufficiently loose so that the size and the shape of her body are not displayed. And otherwise it will simply be an invitation of immorality in the name of wearing dress. The Hadeeth mentioned below clarifies the matter. "Usaama bin Zaid said: Allah's Messenger (SAWS) gave me a gift of thick Coptian cloth which he had previously received as a gift from Dahiah Al-Kalby, so I gave it to my wife to use for her clothing. The Prophet (SAWS) later asked me: 'What is with you that you don't wear the Coptian cloth?' I replied I gave it to my wife to wear. The Prophet (SAWS) then said: "Order her to wear a gown under the Captian cloth, for verily I fear that it might reveal the size and shape of her body parts." (Ahmad, Al-Bayhaqi and Al-Haakim).
A woman's cloth must not resemble a man's cloth. There is no concept of unisex garments in Islam. The following two Prophetic traditions make it clear. One Hadeeth is that Abu Hurairah (R) said: "Allah's Messenger (SAWS) cursed the man who wears attire which resembles women's clothing, and he cursed the woman who wears garments resembling men's clothing." (Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah and others). The other Hadeeth is related by Abdullah bin Amr and he said: I heard the Messenger of Allah saying: "Women who resemble men are not of us (Muslims) nor are the men who resemble women of us." (Imam Ahmad and Al-Tabaraani).
A woman's garments must not have bold decorative patterns and designs because such captivating dress invites the attention of man to the woman wearing it. Allah says, "And let the women not display their adornments."
Her dress must not resemble the clothes normally worn by the non-believing women. Abdullah bin Amr Ibnul Aas said: The Messenger of Allah saw me wearing two portions of a reddish cloth dyed with safflower so he said: "Verily these are the clothes of the disbeliever, so do not wear them." (Muslim and Ahmad). And Abdullah bin Umar relates that the Messenger (SAWS) said: "Whosoever resembles a people (other than Muslims) he is one of them." (Ahmad and Abu Dawood).
The last one is that a Muslim woman's dress must not be ostentatious or showy due to pride or worldliness, to gain high reputation before people. The Prophet (SAWS) said: "Whosoever wear ostentatious dress in this worldly life, Allah will clothe him/ her in a dress of humiliation and disgrace in the Day of Resurrection; then He will kindle it with fire." (Abu Dawood and Ibn Maajah).
In the conclusion of his paper the writer mentions a Quranic verse from the Surah Al-Ahjaab where Allah says: "And let not the womenfolk appear in the manner of the times of Ignorance." It is unbecoming of the Muslims to resemble the people of darkness, disbelief, and ignorance after Allah (SWT) has taken them out of darkness, disbelief, and ignorance. So a Muslim woman should guard her modesty and conceal her private adornments from all those who are forbidden to see them. And she can achieve Allah's pleasure in this life and the eternal blissful life in the Hereafter.

by Abu Bilal Mustafa Al-Kanadi

Impressions: My Body is My Own Business

I probably do not fit into the preconceived notion of a "rebel". I have no visible tattoos and minimal piercing. I do not possess a leather jacket. In fact, when most people look at me, their first thought usually is something along the lines of "oppressed female". The brave individuals who have mustered the courage to ask me about the way I dress usually have questions like: "Do your parents make you wear that?" or "Don't you find that really unfair?"

A while back, a couple of girls in Montreal were kicked out of school for dressing like I do. It seems strange that a little piece of cloth would make such controversy. Perhaps the fear is that I am harboring an Uzi underneath it. You never can tell with those Muslim fundamentalists.

Of course, the issue in hand is more than a mere piece of cloth. I am a Muslim woman who, like millions of other Muslim women across the globe, chooses to wear hijaab. There are many different ways to wear it, in essence, what we do is cover our entire bodies except our hands and faces.

If you're the kind of person who has watched a lot of popular movies, you'd probably think of harem girls and belly-dancers, women who are kept in seclusion except for the private pleasure of their male masters. In the true Islamic faith, nothing could be further from the truth. And the concept of hijaab, contrary to the popular opinion, is actually one of the most fundamental aspects of female empowerment.

Whenever I cover myself, I make it virtually impossible for people to judge me according to the way I look. I cannot be categorized because of my attractiveness or lack thereof. Compare this to life in today's society: We are constantly sizing one another up on the basis of our clothing, jewelry, hair-do and makeup. What kind of depth can there be in a world like this?

Yes, I have a body, a physical manifestation upon this earth. But it is the vessel of an intellectual mind and a strong spirit. It is not for the beholder to leer at or to use in advertisements to sell everything from beer to cars. Because of the superficiality of the world in which we live, external appearances are so stressed that the value of the individual counts for almost nothing.

It is a myth that women in today's society are liberated. What kind of freedom can there be when a woman cannot walk down the street without every aspect of her physical self being 'checked out'? When I wear the hijaab I feel safe from all of this. I can rest assured that no one is looking at me and making assumptions about my character from the length of my skirt. There is a barrier between those who would exploit me and myself. I am first and foremost a human being, equal to any man, and not vulnerable because of my sexuality.

One of the saddest truths of our time is the question of beauty myth and female self-image. Reading popular teenage magazines, you can instantly find out what kind of body image is "in" or "out." And if you have the 'wrong' body type, well, then, you're just going to have to change it, aren't you? After all there is no way that you can be overweight and still be beautiful.

Look at any advertisement. Is a woman being used to sell the product? How old is she? How attractive is she? What is she wearing? More often than not, that woman will be no older than her early 20s, teller, slimmer and more attractive than average, dressed in skimpy clothing. Why do we allow ourselves to be manipulated like this? Whether the '90s wishes to believe it or not, she is being forced into a mould. She is being coerced into selling herself, into compromising herself. This is why we have 13-year-old girls sticking their fingers down their throats and overweight adolescents hanging themselves.

When people ask me if I feel oppressed, I can honestly say no. I made this decision out of my own free will. I like the fact that I am taking control of the way other people perceive me. I enjoy the fact that I don't give anyone anything to look at and that I have released myself from the bondage of the swinging pendulum of the fashion industry and other institutions that exploit females. My body is my own business. Nobody can tell me how I should look or whether or not I am beautiful. I know that there is no more to me than that. I am also able to say 'no' comfortably when people ask me I feel as though my sexuality is being repressed. I have taken control of my sexuality.

I am thankful I will never have to suffer the fate of trying to lose/gain weight or trying to find the exact lipstick shade that will go with my skin color. I have made choices about what my priorities are and these are not among them. So next time when you see me, don't look at me sympathetically. I am not under duress or a male-worshipping female captive from those barbarous (?) Arabian deserts. I've been liberated by ISLAM.

by Sulata Yusufali
Summary: Md. Mahmudul Hasan

*Sultana Yusufali is a 17-year-old Toronto high school girl. (Courtesy: Toronto Star Young People's Press)

Hijaab: My Personal Experiences

When I return to Islam, the religion of our inborn nature, a fierce debate raged about girls observing hijaab at school in France. It still does. The majority, it seemed, thought that wearing the head-scarf was contrary to the principle that public (that is state funded) schools should be neutral with regard to religion. Even as a non-Muslim, I could not understand why there was such a fuss over such a small thing as a scarf on a Muslim student's head.

Muslims contributed a proportionate amount of tax to the state funds. In my opinion, schools could respect religious beliefs and practices of students so long as they did not pose a threat to discipline. However, the French faced, apparently, increasing unemployment and they felt insecure about the immigration of Arab workers. The sight of hijaab in their towns and schools aggravated such insecurity.

More and more young people in Arab countries were (and are) wearing the hijaab. Such a revival of Islamic practices is often regarded as an attempt by Muslims to restore their pride and identity, both undermined by colonialism. In Japan it may be seen and understood as conservative traditionalism, or the result of anti-Western feeling, something which the Japanese themselves experienced following the first contact with Western culture during the Meiji era; they too reacted against a non-traditional life-style and Western dress. There is a tendency for people to be conservative in their ways and to react to anything new and unfamiliar without taking the time to see if it is good or bad. The feeling still persists among the non-Muslims that Muslim women wear the hijaab simply because they are slaves to tradition, so much so that it is seen as a symbol of oppression. Women's liberation and independence is, so they believe, impossible unless they first remove the hijaab.

'Muslims' share such naivete with little or no knowledge of Islam. Being so used to secularism, pick and mix, they are unable to comprehend that Islam is universal and eternal. This apart, women all over the world, non-Arabs, are embracing Islam and wearing the hijaab as a religious requirement, not as a misdirected sense of 'tradition'. I am but one example of such women. My hijaab is not a part of my traditional identity; it has no social or political significance; it is purely and simply, my religious identity.

For non-Muslims, the hijaab not only covers a woman's hair, but also hides something, leaving them no access. They are being excluded from something, which they have taken for granted in secular society. What does the hijaab mean to me? Although there have been many books and articles about the hijaab, they always tend to be written from an outsider's point of view; I hope this will allow me to explain what I can observe from the inside, so to speak.

When I decided to declare my Islam, I did not think whether I could pray five times a day or wear the hijaab. May be I was scared that if I had given it serious thought I would have reached a negative conclusion, and that would affect my decision to become a Muslim. Until I visited the main mosque in Paris I had nothing to do with Islam; neither the prayers nor the hijaab were familiar to me. In fact, both were unimaginable but my desire to be a Muslim was too strong (Alhamdulillah) for me to be overly concerned with what awaited me on the other side of my conversion.

The benefits of observing hijaab became clear to me following a lecture at the mosque when I kept my scarf on even after leaving the building. The lecture had filled me with such a previously unknown spiritual satisfaction that I simply did not want to remove it. Because of the cold weather, I did not attract too much attention but I did feel different, somehow purified and perfected; I felt as if I was in Allah's company. As a foreigner in Paris, I sometimes felt uneasy about being stared at by men. In my hijaab I went unnoticed, protected from impolite stares.

My hijab made me happy. It was both a sign of my obedience to Allah and a manifestation of my faith. I did not need to utter beliefs, the hijaab stated them clearly for all to see, especially fellow Muslims, and thus it helped to strengthen the bond of sisterhood in Islam. Wearing the hijaab soon became spontaneous, albeit purely voluntary. No human being could force me to wear it; if they had, perhaps I would have rebelled and rejected it. However, the first Islamic book I read used very moderate language in this respect, saying that "Allah recommends it (the hijaab) strongly" and since Islam (as the word itself indicates) means we to obey Allah's will I accomplish my Islamic duties willingly and without difficulty, Alhamdulillah.

The hijaab reminds people who see it that Allah exists, and it serves as a constant reminder to me that I should conduct myself as a Muslim. Just as police officers are more professionally aware while in uniform, so I had a stronger sense of being a Muslim wearing my hijaab.

Two weeks after my return to Islam, I went back to Japan for a family wedding and took the decision not to return to my studies in France; French literature had lost its appeal and the desire to study Arabic had replaced it. As a new Muslim with very little knowledge of Islam it was a big test for me to live in a small town in Japan completely isolated from Muslims. However, this isolation intensified my Islamic consciousness, and I knew that I was not alone as Allah was with me. I had to abandon many of my clothes and, with some help from a friend who knew dressmaking, I made some pantaloons, similar to Pakistani dress. I was not bothered by the strange looks the people gave me!

After six months in Japan, my desire to study Arabic grew so much that I decided to go to Cairo, where I knew someone. Generally speaking, young Egyptians, more or less fully westernized, kept their distance from women wearing Khimar (headscarf) and called them "the sisters". Men treated us with respect and special politeness. Woman wearing a Khimar shared a sisterhood which lived up to the Prophet's saying (Allah's blessings and peace on him) that "a Muslim gives his salaam to the person he crosses in the street, whether he knows him or not." The sisters were, it is probably true to say, more conscious of their faith than those who wear scarves for the sake of custom, rather than for the sake of Allah.

Before becoming a Muslimah, my preference was for active pants-style clothes, not the more feminine skirt, but the long dress I wore in Cairo pleased me; I felt elegant and more relaxed. In the western sense, black is a favorite color for eveningwear as it accentuates the beauty of the wearer.

My new sisters were truly beautiful in their black Khimar, and a light akin to saintliness shone from their faces. Indeed, they are not unlike Roman Catholic nuns, something I noticed particularly when I had occasion to visit Paris soon after arriving in Saudi Arabia. I was in the same Metro carriage as a nun and I smiled at our similarity of dress. Hers was the symbol of her devotion to God, as is that of a Muslimah. I often wonder why people say nothing about the veil of the Catholic nun but criticize vehemently the veil of a Muslimah, regarding it as a symbol of 'terrorism' and 'oppression'. I did not mind abandoning colorful clothes in favor of black; in fact, I had always had a sense of longing for the religious lifestyle of a nun even before becoming a Muslimah.

Nevertheless, I balked at the suggestion that I should wear my Khimar back in Japan. I was angry at the sister's lack of understanding: Islam commands us to cover out bodies, and as long as this is done, one may dress as desired. Every society has its fashions and such long black clothes in Japan could make people think I am crazy, and reject Islam even before I could explain its teachings. Our arguments revolved around this aspect. After another six months in Cairo, however, I was so accustomed to my long dress that I started to think that I would wear it on my return to Japan. My concession was that I had some dresses made in light colors, and some white Khimars, in the belief that they would be less shocking in Japan than the black variety.

I was right. The Japanese reacted rather well to my white Khimars, and they seemed to be able to guess that I was of a religious persuasion. I heard one girl telling her friend that I was Buddhist nun: how similar a Muslimah, a Buddhist nun and a Christian nun are! Once, on a train, the elderly man next to me asked why I was dressed in such unusual fashion. When I explained that I was a Muslimah and that Islam commands women to cover their bodies so as not to trouble men who are weak and unable to resist temptation, he seemed impressed. When he left the train he thanked me. In this instance, the hijaab prompted a discussion on Islam with a Japanese man who would not normally be accustomed to talking about religion. As in Cairo, the hijaab acted as a means of identification between Muslims; I found myself on the way to a study circle wondering if I was on the right route when I saw a group of sisters wearing the hijaab. We greeted each other with salaam and went on to the meeting together.

My father was worried when I went out in long sleeves and head-cover even in the hottest weather, but I found that my hijaab protected me from the sun. Indeed, it was I who also felt uneasy looking at my younger sister's legs while she wore short pants. I have often been embarrassed, even before declaring Islam, by the sight of a woman's bosom and hips clearly outlined by tight, thin clothing. I felt I was seeing something secret. If such a sight embarrasses me, one of the same sex, it is not difficult to imagine the effect on men. In Islam, men and women are commanded to dress modestly and not be naked in public, even in all male and female situations.

It is clear that what is acceptable to be bared in societies varies according to societal or individual understanding. For example, in Japan fifty years ago it was considered vulgar to swim in a swimming suit but now bikinis are the norm. If however, a woman swam topless she would be regarded as shameless. To go topless on the south coast of France, however, is the norm. On some beaches in America, nudists lie as naked as the day they were born. If a nudist were to ask a 'liberated' female who rejects the hijaab why she still covers her bosoms and hips which are as natural as her hands and face, could she give an honest answer? The definition of what part of a woman's body should remain private to her is altered to suit the whims and fancies of either men or their surrogates, the so-called feminists. But in Islam we have no such problems: Allah has defined what may and may not be bared, and we follow.

The ways people walk around naked (or almost so), excreting or making love in public, rob them of the sense of shame and reduce them to the status of animals. In Japan, women only wear make-up when they go out and have little regard for how they look at home. Muslims are accused of being over-sensitive about the human body but the degree of sexual harassment, which occurs these days, justifies modest dress. Just as a short skirt can send the signal that the wearer is available to men, so the hijaab signals, loud and clear: " I am forbidden for you."

It is an error of judgment to think that a Muslim woman covers herself because she is a private possession of her husband. In fact, she preserves her dignity and refuses to be possessed by strangers. It is non-Muslim (and "liberated (?)" Muslim) women who are to be pitied for displaying their private self for all to see.

Observing the hijab from outside, it is impossible to see what it hides. The gap, between being outside and looking out, explains in part the void in the understanding of Islam. An outsider may see Islam as restricting Muslims. Inside, however, there is peace, freedom, and joy, which those who experience it have never known before. Practicing Muslims, whether those born in Muslim families or those returned to Islam, choose Islam rather than the illusory freedom of the secular life. If it oppresses women, why are so many well-educated young women in Europe, America, Japan, Australia, indeed all over the world, abandoning "liberty" and "independence" and embracing Islam?

A person blinded by prejudice may not see it, but a woman in hijaab is brightly beautiful as an angel, full of self-confidence, serenity, and dignity. No sign of oppression scars her face. "For indeed it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts within the bosoms that grow blind," says the Qur'an (Al-Hajj 22:46). How else can we explain the great gap in understanding between such people and us?

by Nakata Khaula

(Nakata Khaula is a citizen of Japan and a Muslim by faith.)

A true story: Reason not to party anymore!!!

This story came from the "Daily Texan"-the University of Texas newspaper. Apparently it occurred during Fall Premier-a tradition that is a celebration of the end of midterms. "Reason to not party anymore"-This went out last Saturday night to a party. He was having a good time, had a couple of beers and some girl seemed to like him and invited him to go to another party. He quickly agreed and decided to go along with her. She took him to a party in some apartment and they continued to drink, and even got involved with some other drug (unknown which). The next thing he knew, he woke up completely naked in a bathtub filled with ice. He was still feeling the effects of the drugs, but looked around to see he was alone. He looked down at his chest, which had "CALL 911 OR YOU WILL DIE," written on it in lipstick. He saw a telephone was on a stand next to the tub, so he picked it up and dialed. He explained to the EMS operator what the situation was and that he didn't know where he was, what he took, or why he was really calling. She advised him to get out of the tub. He did, and she asked him to look himself over in the mirror. He did, and appeared normal, so she told him to check his back. He did, only to find two 9 inch slits on his lower back. She told him to get back in the tub immediately, and they sent a rescue team over.

Apparently, after being examined, he found out more of what had happened. His kidneys were stolen. They are worth 10,000 dollars each on the black market. (I was unaware this even existed). Several guesses are in order: The second party was a sham, the people involved had to be at least medical student, and it was not just recreational drugs he was given. Regardless, he is currently in the hospital on life support, awaiting a spare kidney.

The University of Texas in conjunction with Bailer University Medical Center is conducting tissue research to match the sophomore student with a donor. I wish to warn you about a new crime ring that is targeting business travelers. This ring is well organized, well funded, has very skilled personnel, and is currently in most major cities and recently very active in New Orleans.

The crime begins when a business traveler goes to a lounge for a drink at the end of the workday. A person in the bar walks up as they sit alone and offers to buy them a drink. The last thing the traveler remembers until they wake up in a hotel room bathtub, their body submerged to their neck in ice, in sipping that drink. There is a note taped to the wall instructing them not to move and to call 911. A phone is on a small table next to the bathtub for them to call. The business traveler calls 911 who have become quite familiar with this crime. The business traveler is instructed by the 911 operator to very slowly and carefully reach behind them and feel if there is a tube and answers, "Yes." The 911 operator tell them to remain still, having already sent paramedics to help. The operator knows that both of the business travelers' kidneys have been harvested.

This is not a scan or out of a science fiction novel, it is real. It is documented and confirmed. If you travel or someone close to you travels, please be careful. Sadly, this is very true. My husband is Houston Firefighter/EMT and they have received alerts regarding this crime ring. It is to be taken very seriously. The daughter of a friend of a fellow firefighter had this happen to her. Skilled doctors are performing these crimes! (Which, by way have been highly noted in the Las Vegas area). Additionally, the military has received alerts regarding this. This story blew me away. I really want as many people to see this as possible. So please bounce this to whoever you can.


by Michele Shafer

* The writer is a DML/ Lab Administration Medical Manager Research & Development, Alachua, Florida, USA

Hazrat Umme Habibah

One of the staunchest enemies of Islam was undoubtedly Abu Sufyan ibn Harb from the tribe of Abd Shams of the Quraysh. A most powerful and feared man, he was the chieftain of Makkah-he had to be obeyed and followed. Among the Quraysh themselves it was inconceivable that any person could stand up and challenge Abu Sufyan in any way…but one person did.

That person was his daughter-Ramlah. Imagine what an uproar resulted in Makkah when the Chieftain of the Quraysh was challenged by a woman-and moreover his own daughter! Ramlah rejected the deities of her father and forefathers and accepted the true religion of Allah-Al-Islam. A strong support and encouragement was provided by her husband, Ubaydullah ibn Jahsh, who put his faith in the message brought by the Prophet of Allah-Muhammad ibn Abdullah (SAWS).

When Ramlah told her father that she had accepted the new religion, Abu Sufyan tried his hardest to bring her and her husband back to the old idolatrous ways. He was amazed at her conviction and firm faith in Islam: it was embedded so strongly in her heart that nothing he could say would change her mind.

Finally Abu Sufyan knew that he had to tell the Quraysh, but how could he, their Chieftain, admit that his own daughter had turned against them? Eventually, when the Quraysh found out and realized how distressed Abu Sufyan was himself, they unleashed the cruelest punishments on Ramlah and Ubaydullah.

Peacefully but strongly they bore the punishments until the fifth year of the Prophet's mission. At this time the degree of torture upon the Muslims had reached such a level that it had simply became unbearable to live there. The Prophet (SAWS) gave permission to some Muslims to leave and migrate to Abyssinia. Amongst these people were Ramlah, Ubaydullah and their little daughter Habibah. With the birth of her daughter, Ramlah became commonly known by her Kunya (nickname) as Umm Habibah.

The migration infuriated Abu Sufyan and the Quraysh even more and they followed the group to Abyssinia. However, when they reached the land of Nagus, the King of Abyssinia he examined both belief and declared: "What has been revealed to your Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) and what Jesus, the son of Mary, preached came from the same source!" According to some historians the Negus immediately accepted Islam according to others it was much later, but either way he gave full protection to the Muslims. Defeated, the Quraysh returned to Makkah only to increase the torture on the remaining Muslims. For Ramlah, the many years of hardships had finally led to this oasis of serenity. However, what Allah plans is different to what we could ever imagine.

Ramlah was blessed with a magnificent trial. One night she had a vision whilst sleeping, that her husband was in the midst of a fathomless ocean covered by wave upon wave of darkness. She woke frightened, but did not disclose the details of her dream to anybody-even to Ubaydullah.

It was the following day that the ominous dream became a most heart-breaking reality: Ubaydullah ibn Jahsh announced his rejection of Islam and acceptance of Christianity. Her pillar of strength had collapsed and shattered her world. He presented her with the 'option' of accepting Christianity or being divorced.

This left Ramlah with three possibilities. Either she could remain with her husband and accept Christianity-which she knew would deserve damnation in this world and the Hereafter. This she would never do because although Ubaydullah had been the pillar, she had been the foundation. Although he had collapsed, her faith was still permanent and pure.

Her second option was to return to her father's house in Makkah, which was still a citadel of idolatry, and live under his oppression. Finally, she could stay alone in the land of the Negus-without country, family or heritage.

Due to the clarity and firmness of her faith, she knew she must do what was best for her Imaan (faith). She understood that Allah was testing her and this test was for her own good. Finally Allah (SWT) rescued her from this predicament. Obaydullah ibn Jahsh breathed his last. Prophet (SAWS) sent her proposal of marriage through Amr ibn Umaiya. Umme Habibah accepted the proposal wholeheartedly. Then the marriage ceremony of Umme Habibah with the Holy Prophet (SAWS) was solemnized in the exile (in the land of Negus). Negus paid her 400 Dinars as marriage gift on behalf of the Prophet (SAWS). Umme Habibah was at her 37 at that time. Hazrat Umme Habibah used to listen to the discourse and speech of the Prophet (SAWS) with all her attention and try her best to translate them into her life. When her father Abu Sufyan died as a Muslim, she seemed overwhelmed with happiness and smeared his appearance with sweet scent. When the moment of her last breath was approaching, she addressed her co-wives Aeyshah and Umme Salmah and said, "There happened some slight family discords between us as it is usual between the co-wives, so forgive me." Hazrat Aeyshah promptly pardoned her. Hazrat Umme Salmah also pardoned her and added, "You have made me happy on the eve of your departure from this mundane world; may Allah keep you in happiness in the Hereafter."

Umme Habibah was very simpleminded and easygoing woman. Once she urged the Prophet (SAWS) to marry her own sister and told him that she wished her own sister also might enjoy the happiness of the family life with the Prophet (SAWS). Then the Prophet (SAWS) explained to her the rue of Islam regarding the matter.

Courtesy: TRENDS, Volume 5, Issue 4, UK

Zaynab Al-Ghazali

Zaynab Al-Ghazali (b. 1917) is the prominent writer and the teacher of the Muslim Brotherhood and founder of the Muslim Women's Association (1936-64). Her father is an Al-Azhar-educated independent religious teacher and cotton merchant. He encouraged her to become an Islamic leader citing the example of Nusaybah bint Ka'ab al-Maziniyah, a woman fought alongside the Prophet (SAWS) in the Battle of Uhud. For a short time she joined Egyptian Feminist Union only to find it a mistaken path for women. At her eighteen, she founded the Jama'at al-Satyyidat al-Muslimat (Muslim Women's Association), which, she claims, had a membership of three million throughout the country by the time it was dissolved by government order in 1964. Although she had acquaintance with Shaikh Hasan Al-Banna, the founder of Ikhwan, since the late 30s and actively participated in many Islamic programs, she formally joined the Muslim Brotherhood (Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimun) in 1948. Her weekly lectures to women at the Ibn Tulum Mosque drew a crowd of three thousand, which grew to five thousand during holy months of the year. Besides offering lessons for women, the association published a magazine, maintained an orphanage, offered assistance to poor families, and mediated family disputes. The association also took a political stance, demanding that Egypt be ruled by the Qur'an.

In Islamic history ladies have not lagged behind in the struggle to establish truth and eradicate falsehood, to uphold Islamic values and principles, and for that matter establish Islam as a living, thriving, and forward-looking religion. Zaynab Al-Ghazali is one of such dynamic ladies.

After the assassination of Hasan al-Banna in 1949, Al-Ghazali was instrumental in regrouping the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 1960s. Imprisoned for her activities in 1965, she was sentenced to twenty-five year of hard labor but was released under Anwar Sadat's Presidency in 1971. She describes her prison's experience, which included sufferings of many heinous forms of torture, in a book entitled Ayyam min hayyati (Days from my life). She depicts herself as enduring torture with strength beyond that of most men, and she attests to both miracles and visions that strengthened her and enabled her to survive. She sees herself as the object of President Gamal Abdul Nasser's hatred.

After her release from prison, al-Ghazali resumed teaching and writing first for the revival of Muslim Brotherhood's magazine, Al-Dawah. She was editor of a women's and children's section in Al-Dawah, in which she encouraged women to become educated, but to be obedient to their husbands and stay at home while rearing their children. God had given her the "blessing"-although not viewed such by most people-of not having conceived any children (interview, 13 September 1988). This gave her a great deal of freedom. Her husband was also quite wealthy, so she had servants to do her house-works. She believes that Islam allows women to be active in all aspects of public life, as long as it does not interfere with their first and most sacred duty. Her second husband died while she was in prison. Having fulfilled her duty of marriage, she feels free to devote all of her energies to the Islamic cause.

In addition to being very active in Dawah work, Zaynab al-Ghazali has been a prolific writer, contributing regularly to major Islamic journals and magazines on Islamic and women's issues. Although the Islamic movement throughout the Muslim world today has attracted large number of young women, especially since 1971s, Zaynab al-Ghazali stands out thus for as the only woman to distinguish herself as one of its major leaders.

Her book Ayyam min Hayati, which is entitled "Return of The Pharaoh" in its English version, is simply a proof of her "towering personality who stood like a rock, successfully thwarting mighty waves of torture and temptation. No amount of persecution and persuasion could weaken her faith and resolve in Islam." The book is a manifestation of "her perseverance for the cause of Islam, her patience in the face of all kinds of affliction and persecution. Her many qualities of head and heart remind us of the life and time of many of the Companions of Prophet and virtuous people in earlier generation of Muslim history."

"The hardships and severe tests which Zaynab al-Ghazali was subjected to, her firmness and bravery in facing the enemies of Islam, her deep iman in Allah and Islamic cause, serve as examples for all who strive for the establishment of a state ruled by Divine Law. The story of Zaynab al-Ghazali is a story of right against wrong, justice against injustice and dignity against humiliation. The glory of Muslim Ummah has faded a little. It is, however, the likes of Zaynab al-Ghazali in their firmness and dedication who will restore it, no matter how great the sacrifice."

The events Zaynab related in her book "Return of the Pharaoh" (in Bangla "Karagare Rat Din") took place more than a quarter century ago. But what is happening today in many parts of the Muslim world is exactly the same as happened to Zaynab, her Muslim brothers and sisters in Islam. For the kind perusal of the respected readers we are quoting some excerpts from "Return of The Pharaoh" ("Ayyam min Hayati" in Arabic):

The condition that she made to her husband prior to their marital bond is as follows:
"However, I believe one day I will take this step that I wish and dream of. If that day comes, and because of it, a clash is apparent between your personal interests and economic activities on the one hand, and my Islamic work on the other, and that I find my married life is standing in the way of Da'wah and the establishment of an Islamic state, then, each of us should go our own way."

"I cannot ask you today to share with me this struggle, but it is my right on you not to stop me from jihad in the way of Allah. Moreover, you should not ask me about my activities with other Mujahideen, and let trust be full between us. A full trust between a man and a woman, a woman who, at he age of 18, gave her full life to Allah and Da'wah. In the event of any clash between the marriage contract's interest and that of Da'wah, our marriage will end, but Da'wah will always remain rooted in me."

"I accept that ordering me to listen to you is amongst your rights, but Allah is greater than ourselves. Besides, we are living in a dangerous phase of Da'wah."

The response of her husband was: "Forgive me. Carry on your work with Allah's blessing. If only I could live to see the establishment of an Islamic state and the Ikhwan's goal achieved! If only I was still in my youth to work with you!"

Description of the persecution on her in prison:
"The next moment the door was locked and a bright light switched on. Now their purpose was revealed; the room was full of dogs! I could not count how many!

"Scared, I closed my eyes and put my hands to my chest. Within second the snarling dogs were all over me and I could feel their teeth tearing into every part of my body. Clenching my hands tight into my armpits, Ibegan to recount the Names of Allah, beginning with 'O Allah! O Allah!'…. I expected that my clothes would be thoroughly stained with blood, for I was sure the dogs had bitten every part of my body. But, incredulously, there was not a single bloodstain on my clothes, as if the dogs had been in my imagination only."

"I do not know how but I fell asleep while invoking Allah, and it was then that I experienced the first of four visions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that I was to see during my stay in prison. There in front of me, praise be to Allah, was a vast desert and camels with hawdahs as if made of light. On each hawdah were four men, all with luminous faces. I found myself behind this huge train of camels in that vast, endless desert, and standing behind a great, reverent man. This man was holding a halter, which passed through the neck of each camel. I wondered silently: Could this man be the Prophet (peace be upon him)?

"Silence has no safeguard with the Prophet, who replied: 'Zainab! You are following in the footsteps of Muhammad, Allah's Servant and Messenger.'"`

"I remained in my cell for six consecutive days: from Friday 20th August to Thursday 26th August 1965. My cell door, during these six days was never opened. I was given neither food, drink, allowed to go to the toilet nor any contact with the outside world, except my warder who, now and then, peeped through the small hole in my cell door. You can imagine, dear reader, how a person can live in such circumstances."

"Write down the names of all your acquaintances on the face of this earth. If you don't, we will shoot you where you stand. Write down the names of all your Ikhwan acquaintances and everything about your relationship with them.

"They then left the cell, closing the door behind them. I wrote: 'I have many friends, in many countries, who have known me through Islamic da'wah. Our movements on this earth are for Allah, and He leads those who choose His path. This path is the same as that which the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions followed before us. Our aim is to spread Allah's message and to call for the implementation of His rule. I call you, in the Name of Allah, to leave your Jahiliyyah, renew your Islam, pronounce the Shahadah and submit and repent to Allah from this darkness that has swathed your hearts, and which prevents you from doing any good deed. If you do so, perhaps Allah will take you out of this abyss of Jahiliyyah and bring you to the light of Islam."

"Then, at the Adhan of Fajr, I prayed, raising my hands and invoking Allah: "O Allah! If You are not angry with me I don't care, but Your grace is more befitting to me. I seek refuge in the light of Your Face, That which has enlightened darkness and on Whom the matters of this life and the Hereafter have settled, that Your Curse does not befall me. To You is our obedience until You are pleased and there is no might or strength except with You."

"His whips found every part of my body, the cruelest thing that Jahiliyyah had known both in terms of cruelty and bestiality. As the torture and pain intensified, I could not suppress my creams any longer; I raised my voice to Allah. I repeated His great Name: 'O Allah! O Allah!' Whilst the whips tore into my body, my heart found contentment and affinity with Allah. I lost consciousness but they tried to arouse me to take more punishment. Blood poured from my feet, and unable to pull myself up, I tried to lean on the wall. Safwat persisted with his whip. I begged to be allowed to sit on the floor but Shams Badran shouted: "No! No! Where is your God now? Call Him to save you from my hands! Yet call Nasir and you'll see what will happen! Answer me, where is your God?

'Answer me, you B…'

My voice, faint with exhaustion, was barely audible: 'Allah, may He be exalted, the Doer, the Mighty, the Firm.'"


The Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Modern Islamic World, Oxford University Press
The Return of the Pharaoh, Islamic Foundation, UK.
by Md. Mahmudul Hasan

An interview with Ms. Marlina Garsia (Khadiza)

(This respected lady embraced Islam in Pakistan in 1980 in the hands of Mr. Mia Tufail Muhammad, a Muslim leader of Pakistan. Then after two months she went to Australia and returned to Pakistan in August 1981. She breathed her last on 29th September in the same year. This interview given below was taken before few days of her demise.)

A. A. Khan: Would you mind giving your detailed identity first of all?
M. G.: Before embracing Islam my name was Marlina Garsia. My parentage is in Brazil. My father Arthur Edward Garsia was a famous physician and was a medical officer of high rank in Burma. And I was born there. I did my matriculation in Rangoon. And then after the retirement of my father we settled in California. My father began private practicing there and he did it well. But he died very soon. I was 18 then. My mother did not overcome the loss of her husband and she also died very soon after two or three years. And I became alone on this earth, as I was the only child of my parents. Nevertheless I did not lose my guts and mental courage. I was always a good student. My father wanted me to be a doctor and I continued my student life accordingly. I completed my graduation in medicine from the university of California. I had a tremendous liking penchant to study. So I began to contribute writing to different newspapers. Apart from the private practicing I often delivered statement against wine and other types of intoxicants. I had to visit Europe and America a lot to deliver my speech on this issue. Finally I settled in the city of Sydney of Australia. I ran a clinic there and began to work as a free lancer journalist. And I earned a good income.

A. A. Khan: When did you get acquainted with Islam?
M. G.: The religion of my forefathers was Christianity. We believed in Roman Catholic Church. To be honest, Christianity failed to impress me. I was burning with so many questions in my mind and I also discussed with the priest and others concerned. But no satisfactory answer was found. For example the belief in Trinity is such a nonsensical and ridiculous matter that no sensible person can accept it. In addition I must say that my conscience did not permit me to take wine and sensuality. I never took meat and coffee. I have been a vegetarian. It seemed to me that the common life-style of Europe was against nature. So to discover the truth I began to study other religions. But no religion could satisfy my questioning mind. Then I started to read some books of Islam whose fundamental ideology impressed me. But its basic idea was yet to be clear to me. The reason might be that the writers of those books were conservative Christians. For this reason I maintained a distance from Islam though I had a weakness for it and some time passed in this way.

Fortunately enough I came to read the books by Mariam Jamilah and then I came to Pakistan with a delegation of journalist and met with her. Her simplicity and personality moved me. She was married to such a man who had some children by his previous wife. She used to take care of her old mother-in-law and silently got engrossed in the Islamic activities. Mariam Jamilah arranged my acquaintance with Maulana Maududi. She gave me a book by Maulana Maududi entitled "Towards Understanding Islam". After reading this book I got quite a complete knowledge about Islam. I understood that Islam is an all-inclusive and natural religion and Tawheed is the final truth of the whole creation. Whatever I see before me gives a testimony of the unity of Allah.

I was getting prepared when I returned to Australia. Unfortunately the lower part of my knee was broken by an accident and I was bed-ridden for some days in a hospital. My remembrance of Allah and prayer to him were my resources that gave me total healthy condition. I came to Pakistan for the second time and expressed my desire to embrace Islam and according to his exhortation I went to Monsura and achieved a great blessing like Islam through Mr. Mia Tufail Muhammad. It is not possible to end giving thanks to Allah for this good fortune.

A. A. Khan: What will be the reaction of your family and society you think?
M. G.: I told before that I have no family. I am still unmarried. The reason I have not married yet is that in the European society men never maintain an intimate relation with the women. They think woman a plaything and an object of enjoyment. I was always against this attitude. I did not find an honest man with the sense of humanity and morality. Generally I can say that the society I know will react negatively. They will sneer and laugh at me, which I don't care about. Moreover I am not in a mind to live in Australia. When I return there I will sell my home and other belongings and then migrate to Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. It is my desire that I will spend the rest of my life in Lahore or Madina. I hope I will perform Haj (pilgrimage) very soon. You may know that like Europe the social life of Australia is also devoid of mental peace. And many social crimes are there like stealth, robbery etc. One and all are used to wine there. Sexual perversion is at the peak. Many houses are subject to be burnt for social unrest. Who knows that I may find my house burnt when go back. In the city of Sydney fire brigade is seen to hurry making a hoarse sound. These are the every day happenings there.

A. A. Khan: What is the proper way of the spread of Islam you think?
M. G.: The one and only way to spread Islam is that the Muslim should translate Islam into their practical life and should pursue it on earth as the vicegerent of Allah. The European are groping in the darkness and their religion has nothing to give them light. Life has become a hell there. They are thirsty and the only thing to quench their thirst is Islam that they are far from. When a European man inclines towards Islam it means that he comes closer to the truth. But when he sees the lamentable condition of Islamic world he becomes frustrated and goes away from Islam. So the only remedy for this problem is that the Muslim should obey Islam completely. And only then the whole Europe, America, Australia and Japan will take shelter under the umbrella of Islam.

A. A. Khan: Can you remember the name of such an Islamic personality who has tremendously influenced you?
M. G.: Yea, the respected lady Mariam Jamila has tremendously influenced me. She forsook her primitive and native culture and pursued the Islamic practices. She takes care of her husband and her aged mother-in-law. She brings up her children with affection and proper care. She attends the interviewee very cordially. The very important matter is that she has authored some books that have manifested the hollowness of the luxurious western life on the one hand and presented the truth of Islam on the other. Her personality and her books have brought me closer to Islam. I show her my gratefulness and give thanks.

A. A. Khan: Do you have any message for the Pakistani Muslims in general and the Pakistani Muslim women in particular?
M. G.: The message I want to convey to my Muslim sisters is that they should resort to the just system of Islam. We should adopt the lifestyle shown by the Prophet (SAWS). And herein lies the emancipation of women and this can save the society from different deviations. I want to inform them that the European dress code for woman is disgraceful and not supported by the conscience. For Allah's sake, be away from blind imitation. And resort to the Islamic dress code (hijaab) given by Islam.

by Abbas Ali Khan
Courtesy: Monthly Prithibi
Translator: Md. Mahmudul Hasan

Book Review: Rasuler (SAWS) Juge Nari Shwadhinota

This book is the product of great effort of the learned writer that he exerted to clarify the proper right and responsibility of woman in Muslim society. To realize his goal, the writer made a good attempt to re-evaluate the position of women in the golden society of Madina during the time of the Prophet (SAWS). He has accommodated almost all the proofs from the Holy Qur'an and the authentic Sunnah in favor of his argument. His proofs from the text clearly show the high position of women and also the rights and duties that a Muslim woman is supposed to pursue.

The picture that the writer presents in the book indicates that the position of woman in the traditional Muslim society does not correspond to her position in the prophetic period. It cannot be denied that women are mistreated and oppressed in various forms through misuse and misquotation as well as misinterpretations of the Scriptures. Woman is treated like a 2nd class or lower grade of person, and not as a member of the human family where the consideration of gender essentially makes no difference as far as the Islamic teachings are concerned. This book establishes that the rulings of Shariah for man and woman are essentially same. The writer has prepared the book with the original title in Arabic "Tahreerul Mar'at fi Asrir Risalah" after an arduous research of 24 years with this result.

A sense of cooperation between man and woman is essential to form an Islamic society in true sense. In a true Islamic society women are not considered the servant of men and not vice versa; rather they are friends, co-operator and protectors of each other. In Islam women are basically free agents. For the last few centuries, women's rights have been curtailed to a greater extent (both in religious and social level) which is very unfortunate. Women are not allowed to attend the congregation in the mosque. They can't earn money even if they need it acutely. Whereas in the early period of Islam, women could carry out all activities outside home wearing Islamic dress. The negative attitude and the harshness against woman are mainly for two reasons:

Lack of balanced knowledge of the Shariah, which is very kind towards the woman.
Lack of understanding of some proofs of Shariah regarding woman.
The writer made painstaking research on the above two issues. He has established that:

Women had great urge for higher knowledge for which they used to approach the Prophet (SAWS).
They used to attend the Masjid-e-Nababi in general meetings called by the Prophet (SAWS).
Women like Ummul Mu'munin Hazrat Jainab Binte Jahsh used to earn and give financial help to the ones who were poor. Hazrat Ibne Masood's (R) wife used to maintain her husband and her children.
Hazrat Umme Atia (R) participated in six wars with her husband.
Hazrat Umme Haram (R) asked the Prophet (SAWS) to pray so that she should be among the men who would go on the high sea for taking part in Jihad. The Prophet (SAWS) prayed for her and she participated in a naval expedition.
Hazrat Hafsa (R), sister of Hazrat Abdullah Ibne Omar (R), used to explain Fatwa of Ibne Omar.
Hazrat Asma Binte Shikle (R) never hesitated to assimilate any sort of Knowledge.
Hazrat Omar's wife Ateka Binte Zayed got her rights by attending and speaking out in open meetings.
Hazrat Umme Kulsum (R), a maiden, made Hizrat (migration) to Madina after embracing Islam, leaving her all relatives in Mecca.
A female Companion of the Prophet (SAWS) pursued her right to initiate divorce.
Hazrat Sabi Ata binte Hareth (R) knew how to take decision in any critical moment.
Hazrat Umme Darda (R) expressed her displeasure about the administration of Abdul Malek Ibne Marwan.
A maiden of Khas'Amia performed Hajj on behalf of her father.
Muslim women attended in the mosque to perform Salah.
Muslim women attended the Jum'ah prayer.
Women used to stay in the mosque in the month of Ramadan for I'teqaf.
Women used to approach the Prophet (SAWS) for any query regarding Islam.
Women were active in the mission of "Amru bil Ma'ruf and Nahi anil Munkar" (enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong).
They used to be hospitable to the invited guests and serve them and there was an occasion when the Prophet (SAWS) was one of the guests in the house of a Muslim woman.
The author supported the above-mentioned points with the verses from the Holy Qur'an and the authentic Prophetic traditions. Then he gave his full attention to some misinterpretation of some of the verses of the Holy Qur'an and some Hadeethes. He explained in detail the chain of narration in terms of the Hadeethes, which are weak. And in the case of the authentic hadeethes he tried to give a proper interpretation.

Abdul Halim Abu Shukkah's "Tahrirul Mar'at fi Asrir Risalah" in 6 volumes was first published in Kuwait in 1991. In its original form it is about 2000 pages. The 1, 2, and 3 volumes have been translated in Bengali and these are available in the market now. The translators are Moulana Abdul Munem, Prof. Abul Kalam Patwari and Moulana Monwar Hossain and Abdul Mannan Talib being the editor. International Islamic Federation of Students Organizations (IIFSO) and International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) have jointly published the Bengali translation. The Pioneer can also help the interested readers get the book. *The writer Abdul Halim Abu Shukkah is an Egyptian origin.

by Abdul Halim Abu Shukkah
Reviewd by : Atiq Ahah

Book Review: Muslim Narir Sangram

This book delves into the authentic teachings of Islam in order to show that Islam wants to shape the human society in a way, which is free of the evils of the modern permissive society. Fully documented from the Qur'an and the Hadeeth, it contains a revolutionary message for the Muslim of today and tomorrow. The writings of 7 women active in Islamic movement have been included to enhance understanding of the issues, including Mariam Jamilah, Azam Taleghani, Nisa'a Ameen etc. Zakiyya A. Khaliq says that as Muslim woman, we have an obligation to participate in the struggle against oppression as the verse 9:71 states. Zakiyya offers some suggestions for the Muslim women:

We must strengthen the basic unit of society-the family-by creating and maintaining Islamic environment in the home.
Through proper self-education, we must become aware of public issues and needs.
We must develop skills useful to our society in a variety of areas.
We must teach those who are uneducated and
Help to reform those who have strayed from the path.
Most importantly, we must continually ask for Allah's help and guidance to avoid being among those who sit at home and serve not in Allah's cause.
Today's woman is oppressed in some religious communities as well as in some so-called "progressive" ones. She is oppressed in the name of God by some religious authorities and institutions through misuse of and misquotations from the Scriptures. Out of ignorance or desperation, most of the Muslim women have accepted this mistreatment as their fate; and a number of them turn against Islam and accept western ways.

Family is the Nucleus of any society. In the family life the husband and the wife should show respect to each other as Islam teaches "And live with them in kindness and justice" (4:19). There are some Qur'anic verses which are often misunderstood and consequently used against the interest of women. But a deeper understanding of these verses dismantle all the misunderstanding. Unfortunately enough the male-oriented view of marriage caused a lot of sufferings to the women who are suppressed under the false notion of absolute obedience to husband. But in Islam absolute obedience is only to Allah and His apostle. Wife beating has been turned into a norm in some societies; whereas our Prophet (SAWS) vehemently forbade it.

The Holy Qur'an relates a story of a woman (Bilkis) who ruled over men as she was the Queen of her people. As the Qur'an does not condemn her for ruling over her people, it indicates that a woman can rule a country. But some of our scholars try to overrule it quoting a Hadeeth. The writer has shown the weakness of the Hadeeth. The narrator of the Hadeeth himself took part in battle under the leadership of Hazrat Ayesha (R) and as such it is implausible that he has narrated a Hadeeth against woman leadership.

Some people are mistaken to such a regretful extent that they very incorrectly claim that women should always stay home. Even they do not support that women should pursue Da'wah work outside home.

The writer tries to indicate the historical causes of the oppression on women. And the remedy he suggested is that proper and comprehensive knowledge should be spread.

by Dr. Kaukab Siddiqui
Reviewd by : A. A. Rahman

Companions of the Great Day

I like being popular, having many friends.
It's pleasant to chat, to shop, and to dine with them.
Forever my thoughts swirl around them,
About how to have more fun during the times that we're together.

During times of reflection and solitude
My best friend enlightens my innermost being.
It boldly whispers about making lasting friends
Who will accompany me on the Great Day.

I'm reminded of salah, of siyam, of zakah,
Of eeman, of hajj I've yet to perform.
Of cleansing my heart with purified water
That flows freely from nearby streams.

Good deeds done in private and in public
Will be a solace on that Great Day.
How I need to rush to accumulate
All the companions who will intercede.

Thank you, my friend, and Lady conscience.
Without You I'd have been lost.
Grab my hand and help me find
All of the other Companions.

Help me be Allah conscious
During every breath I take.
Let my meeting with Him be pleasant
For my Companions' sake.

by Tasneem Zeenat Ahmad

Why I wear Hijab

Starting out in a new town
Right after my Dad's heart attack,
Just beginning Junior High,
Everything just went black.

Having no Muslim girlfriend around,
Like I had in Nashville, Tennessee.
I realized how lonely I felt,
Then again, I realized what had to be.

I began to wear hijaab.
Which didn't come easy at first.
I went into a minor depression,
Feeling alienated and cursed.

I started my first at school,
Many strange stares fell upon me.
With only a handful of minority students
I stood out as the lone soul with hijaab for all to see,

To Allah I turned
For help through supplication.
I yearned for more knowledge about being a Muslimah,
Then I realized what exactly was my mission.

My mission in life
Is to obey Allah's will.
Through good and bad,
In valleys and hills.

My prayers were soon answered
In the most remarkable way.
My Dad returned to work,
And I was respected and honored-That was Allah's way.

So I plead to you sisters,
If I can start wearing hijaab at an early age,
You can do it too
And be saved from Allah's Rage.

Remember Paradise!
Life there will forever last.
Entering there will not be easy,
So put on hijab, and do it fast!

by Tasfia Suhani Ahmad (Age 13)

To Western Woman

When you look at me
All you can see
Is the scarf that covers my hair.
My words you can't hear
Because you are too full of fear,
Mouth gaping, all you do is stare.

You think it's not my choice,
In your own "liberation" you rejoice.
You're so thankful that you're not me.
You think I'm uneducated,
Trapped, oppressed and subjugated.

You're so thankful that you are free.

But western woman you have got it wrong-
You're the weak I'm the strong,
For I have rejected the trap of man.
Fancy clothes-low neck, short skirt,
These are devices for pain and hurt,
I'm not falling for that little plan.

Always jumping for male agenda,
Competing on his terms.
No job share, no crèche facilities,
No feeding and happy changing amenities.
No time off for menstrual pain-
"Hormones" they laugh " what a shame."
No equal pay for equal skill-
Your job they can always fill.
No promotion unless you're sterilized.
No promotion unless you're sexually terrorized.
And is this liberation?

I'm a person with ideas and thoughts,
I'm not for sale, I can't be bought.
I won't decorate anyone's arm,
Nor be promoted for my charm.
There's more to me than playing coy.

Living life as a balancing game-mother,
Daughter, wife, nurse, cleaner, cook, lover-
All still bring home a wage.
Who thought up this modern "freedom"?
Where man can love 'em and man can leave 'em
This is not free but life in a cage.

Western woman you can have your life
Mine-it has less strife.
I cover and I get respected
Surely that is to be expected-
For I won't demean the feminine
I won't live to a male criterion.
I dance to my own tone,
And I hope you see this very soon,
For your own sake-wake up and use your sight!
Are you so sure that you are right?

by From a Muslim Woman

A biography of a Book

Here is a biography of a book, which is so special that no other book exists as it does. It is a nonfiction book whose Author has 99 beautiful Names. When browsing at a bookstore or at a library, we always read the credentials of the author before selecting a book. It is especially true when we select nonfiction, How-To books. An author who is an auto mechanic himself would be a better author of a book about car care. Similarly, a psychiatrist or a psychologist can write better books about coping with Depression. Thus we use our faculty to make the choice.

Well getting back to the subject of authors, ours has the perfect knowledge. Nothing in the heavens or on the earth is hidden from Him. He existed before time was created and will exist after the Day of Judgment. He has created all living things and everything in space and beyond. He is the Self-sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need. He neither eats nor drinks. "He begets not nor was He begotten" (112:3). He has no partner. Through His 99 Names we are aware of His attributes. He calls Himself Allah, The Merciful, The Gracious…The Patient. In short He is the Perfect Being Who loves and forgives us over and over again. He is Divine and hence the Book we are telling about is also Divine and perfect just like Him. He has created us and He wants us to attain salvation in the hereafter by leading a blissful life here on the earth. It is kind of Him that He has sent us The Book as a Guidance for our short life on this planet. "Verily, We have sent down to you the Book for mankind in truth. So whoever accepts the guidance, it is only for his own-self and whoever goes astray, he goes astray for his own loss..." (39:41). He uses parables throughout the Book to communicate higher thoughts and ideas. "And We have put forth for men, in this Qur'an every kind of similitude in order that they may remember" (39:27). The Book contains guidance in small matters like knocking on the door before entering and big matters like Jihad (persistent struggle in the cause of Allah) and State Policies.

The style of the Book is that of a sermon and the language is simple yet elegant. "An Arabic Qur'an, without any crookedness (therein) in order that they may avoid all evil which Allah has ordered them to avoid, fear Him and keep their duty to Him" (39:28).

Many have tried to copy similar writings but never succeeded. "And if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant (the Prophet), then produce a Sura like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah, if your doubts are true. But if you cannot-and of a surety you cannot-then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones-which is prepared for those who reject faith." (2:23-24).

The guidance in it will never change with the times; it is eternal and will remain evergreen. No one can temper with its message since the Divine Author Himself guaranteed its protection. (Ref. Qur'an 15:9).

By this time, I hope that, all the readers have come to realize that this unique Book is, of course, the Holy Qur'an. The Divine Author is Allah SWT Who has given Himself 99 Names. Like any machinery, the human being needs a Manual of Operation. Since Allah SWT has created us, only He knows best what is good for us and what is bad and where lies our salvation and where lies our damnation, what path leads us to Jannah (Heaven) and what leads us to Hell. So only for our wellbeing He has sent us proper guidance with instructions detailed. And throughout the history He sent many other Messengers and Divine Books. Selfish people have altered the teachings of the Divine Books to satisfy the demand of their perverted desires. Finally Allah sent the final edition of the heavenly Book called The Qur'an. In it He completed His favor on mankind. The Qur'an is for all mankind and it is for eternity. "…. This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion." (5:3).

Dear believer, now perform wudu and begin reading the holy Qur'an. The Author of the Book is Allah Himself. The Book is His workmanship. Both the Author and the Book are Divine. How can we ever disregard such a Masterpiece? The Holy Qur'an can literally transform your life. You will find peace in your soul and an assurance of Paradise in the Hereafter.

by Tasneem Zeenat Ahmad

Special Report: Discussion on Women in Islam

The Witness, an organization for the women based on Dhaka, arranged a discussion session in the city on different aspects of Islam giving a special emphasis on the position of women in Islam. The program was divided into two parts. In the first session the learned speakers spoke on various aspects of Islam and in the second session the then secretary of the Government of Bangladesh Mr. Shah Abdul Hannan answered different queries from the audience regarding Islam.

The program started with recitation from the Holy Qur'an by Fatima Nasreen , a student of A Level. The President of the Witness Mrs. Nasima Hasan gave the inaugural speech. The speakers were Mrs. Sarah, an American convert Muslim, Mrs. Fatema Aversaji, Dr. Lulu Akhter Banu Sugandhi, and Mr. Shah Abdul Hannan, an Islamic scholar and the then secretary of the Government of Bangladesh. Mr. Ferdous Khan, an educationist and a former additional secretary of the Government, was in the chair.

Mr. Shah Abdul Hannan emphasized the rights of women in Islam. Quoting the verse 71 of Surah 9 (Tawbah), he showed that the basic responsibility of both men and women is same. Allah also makes no difference in the reward of men and women as in the verse 35 of Surah Ahzaab, after mentioning a series of duties of the Muslim men and women, the Qur'an states, "…for them (men and women) Allah has prepared forgiveness and great reward."

He said that according to the verse 9:71 of the Holy Qur'an it is incumbent upon both Muslim men and women to pursue the duty of Amru bil Ma'ruf wa Nahi anil Munkar (to enjoin what is good and to forbid what is wrong). So to inspire the humanity to obey the commands of Allah and to prevent them from doing what Allah has forbidden to do is the responsibility of both the genders. If the men show any sort of negligence in this regard then the womenfolk should be liable to take the lead and to continue this mission. What is called politics is essentially this duty of Amru bil Ma'ruf wa Nahi anil Munkar. Referring to the social and political responsibilities of woman Mr. Shah Abdul Hannan added that politics is simply an instrument for eradicating all forms of evils from the society in order to purify it. The mission of our Prophet (SAWS) was also Tajkiyah (purification). Allah sent him to make purification of moral, economic, and political as well as religious life of the whole humanity. So this purification or Tajkiyah includes the political life and hence politics is essentially a part of Islam. And to purify the society through political means is duty that is incumbent upon both the men and women.

According to the verse 9:71, the second important responsibility of men and women is to establish Salah (prayer) in the society. Regarding the issue of woman prayer in mosque, Mr. Shah Abdul Hannan said that the participation of women in performing prayer in the mosque is on the increase in the present world despite the fact that there exist diverse views on the contention. He firmly asserted that the dignity of men and women is essentially same because the essence of a human being is his/her "Ruh" or soul and Allah has made both with the same Ruh. In the matter of physical structure also both men and women are excellent because Allah (SWT) has made both men and women in the best of mould. Allah proclaims in the Holy Qur'an, "We have indeed created human being in the best of mould." (95:4). At the end of his speech Mr. Shah Abdul Hannan made an earnest request to all to give Islamic work priority over all mundane involvement because Allah says in the Holy Qur'an that "…the believers vehemently love Allah." (Al-Baqara: 165)

In his response to one question from the audience Mr. Shah Abdul Hannan very emphatically said that the verse 34 of Surah No.4 (Nisa'a) of the Holy Qur'an in no way indicates the superiority of men over women. Because the real import of the word Qawwamuna is "protectors" and "maintainers" according to the most of the exegesists (Mufassereen) have translated the word. So those who try to establish the supremacy of men over women are really mistaken. Referring to the verse 36 of Surah No. 3 (Ale Imraan), he says that if the question of superiority arises the women are to be said superior because in this particular verse Allah states that "… and nowise is the male is like the female…." And also because heaven is under the feet of mother (again woman).

He said that the parents have no say in the matter of choosing the gender of childbirth. He mentioned different verses from the Holy Qur'an such as "To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and earth. He creates what He Wills (and Plans). He bestows (children) male or female according to His Will (and Plan). Or He bestows both males and females, and He leaves barren whom He Wills: For He is full of knowledge and power." (42: 49-50).

In his speech as the special guest, Mr. Ferdous Khan mostly focused on the inheritance law of Islam. He said that Allah (SWT) promulgates the inheritance law in details in the verses like 11, 12 and 176 of Surah Nisa of the Holy Qur'an. Citing a fable Mr. Khan said that Islam makes no injustice in the matter of inheritance between men and women. He expatiates on the matter that there are two ways to get undeserved property. One is through inheritance and the other is through marital relation i.e. Mohr (marital gift). In the first case, men are privileged and it is because of his financial responsibility in the family affairs, which is very reasonable. But in the second case, women are absolutely privileged whereas the wife has no financial responsibility in the family matters even though she possesses vast wealth through commerce or some other means. To maintain the family is the sole duty of the husband.

Mrs. Fatima Aversaji, an Iranian Muslim scholar, said that the Islamic rules and laws should be applied in all spheres of human life. Comparing the matter of religion with medicine, she said that a patient has to take some particular medicine to cure his disease regularly and in appropriate manner. But if someone takes all types of medicines at random, his disease will surely worsen and will be attacked with diverse types of side affects. She regretted that the Muslims of the present world are combining many types of life-styles in themselves and making a hotchpotch of all types of ideologies. So she made an earnest urge to the Muslim community to fortify themselves against the western cultural infiltration. She affirmed that a man or woman can't be Muslim by birth or by geographical considerations, rather by translating the doctrine of Islam into his/her practical life.

Dr. Lulu Akhter Banu Sugandhi suggested the leaders of Islamic movement in the present world give proper attention to the woman issue for the promotion of the cause of Islam. The converted American Muslim Mrs. Sarah said that family structure of the west has been destroyed. She highly praised the family structure in Islam. Referring to her conversion to Islam, she averred that she had embraced Islam through knowledge and understanding and not blindly; by choice and not by chance. She added that she has taken resort to Hijab (Islamic dress code) with a proper appreciation of the message of Islam.

Mrs. Nasima Hasan stressed on the spread of the message of Islam with wisdom and in the best manner as prescribed by the Holy Qur'an. Miss Alif Rudaba, the secretary of The Witness, conducted the occasion.

Reported by: Md. Mahmudul Hasan

Mother outside home free children inside home fettered

The over-materialistic Western society presents today a generation with deep mental agony and psychological imbalance caused by the negligence of their parents. Husband and wife, in that society, have fallen into competition over their duties outside home without the least concern for their offspring. In the name of sexual equality they are simply passing over their duties towards their children. Dr T Berry, the famous American pediatrician, rightly says in a recent interview in the Los Angels Time pointing out to this bleak panorama, "My own feeling is that we've pushed women too far, we've split them in two, and we have not given them back anything to support themselves on either end." Commenting on the disintegration of family structure in the in American society and the deplorable existence of women, he voices his agony, " I just think our country is in deep, deep trouble." Hilary Rodham Clinton also conceives similar view about her society and her apprehension over the American society is manifested in her book "It Takes a Village" where she offers this assessment, " The children's potential lost to spirit-crushing poverty, children's health lost to unaffordable care, children's hearts lost in divorce and custody fights, children's futures lost in an over-burdened foster care system, children's lives lost to abuse and violence, our society lost to itself as we fail our children." The following statistics is more ominous and appalling about the condition of American children as Hilary presents in her book:

"Homicide and suicide kill almost seven thousand children every year; one in four of all children are born to unmarried mothers, many of whom are children themselves: and 135,000 children bring guns to school each day. Children in every social stratum suffer from abuse, neglect and preventable emotional problems." She further says, "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matter very much."

Woman emancipation in America has been turned into its opposite direction. Here freedom of women means something ominous and something harmful to the integration of family life. Here freedom means avoiding her duties towards her children and husband as well. Here freedom of women means to fall in rivalry with men outside home retaining the home in a smoldering fire. The natural consequence of this sexual rivalry outside home is that the children are now free from discipline and rigidities of home, where parents provide for them, take care of them and give them a constant guidance to make their lives happy and smooth. But the opposite things are happening in that society and the mothers are neglecting their duties at home. In consequence, the existence of the future generation is becoming more and more hazardous. Their lives, that were meant to be spent happily under the proper care and guidance of their parents, have turned into a miserable existence.

In other words, as the parents are free to fall into competition to enjoy their lives outside home, the children are also on their own way to make up for the hiatus in their lives. Instead of filial care and love the children are being packed off to the 'farmhouse of children' which they call 'day care' and which can not fulfill the psychological and emotional needs of the children and which can not be the substitute of a mother's care. Hilary opens out her mind and admits, "My personal wish, that every child have an intact, dependable family, will likely remain a wish."

Giving the uttermost importance to the mother's being at home with her children, Dr Brazelton, addressing the woman-folk, says, "I think you are giving a gift to the child when you stay home with him as long as you can." But the reality is that the western women, in the name of liberation, have gone to such a remote haunt from their home that they have little respite to pay their attention to the family. And the unavoidable result of this inability is that almost all the American children are suffering from manifold psychological crises and that a good number of children are attending their schools bearing guns which they are targeting even to their teachers. It sounds absurd that western world are making decree that the rest of the world must emulate this very western life-style lest they should remain undeveloped (as if development means shattering the social integration?). "It is as if a person who has lost an eye to horseplay now wants anyone else to have an eye removed voluntarily!"

What the world should follow are the precepts of Islam. Without emulating the Islamic family structure the social fabric can never be retained. It is because of the importance of the role of mother in her family that Islam frees a wife from the burden to provide for the family giving the husband the full responsibility to maintain the family. To present a sweet home and to bring up an auspicious generation, there is no other alternative but to inspire the women to give proper care to her family. To the greatest interest of the family, Islam has prescribed that men be primarily responsible for the affairs outside home and women be primarily responsible for the affairs of home. This does not mean that women should be confined to the four walls of the house. Islam permits her to pursue her mundane and religious affairs outside home giving proper emphasis on her duty towards her children, husband and family. Islam prescribes the way for a woman to pursue her activities outside her home. Allah (SWT) says, "O Prophet! Tell thy wives, daughters, and the believing women that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when outside home): That is most convenient that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful" (33:59). Commenting on this verse Allama Yousuf Ali says in his Tafseer "The Holy Qur'an", "This is for all Muslim women, those of the Prophet's household as well as others. The times were those of insecurity (see next verse) and they were asked to cover themselves with outer garments when walking abroad. It was never contemplated that they should be confined to their house like prisoners." "The object was not to restrict the liberty of women, but to protect them from harm and molestation under the conditions then existing in Madina. In the East and in the West a distinctive public dress of some sort of another has always been a badge of honor and distinction, both among men and women. This can be traced back to the earliest civilizations. Assyrian Law in its palmiest days (say, 7th century BC), enjoined the veiling of married women and forbade the veiling of slaves and women of ill fame: see Cambridge Ancient History, 3, pp. 107."

by Md. Mahmudul Hasan
Acknowledgement: Impact International, May 1998

Turkish secularism finds its expression in Japan

Turkish secularist force leaves no chance to make their attack on Islam inside the country in the name of the preservation of secularist status. Any Islamic institution seems to be a threat to the spirit of secularism. Their latest onslaught on Islam has been manifested in their attempt to sell the land of Tokyo mosque land. Tokyo mosque and its adjoining land is the heart of the Muslim community there. It is a collective asset belonging to the whole of Japanese Muslims of which the Turkish embassy gained trusteeship by an accident of history. The embassy being the representative of military-appointed secular regime in Ankara has little care for the impoverished and resource-starved Muslim minority of Japan rather they are trying to take a stand against the interest of our Muslim brothers and thus they have showed the true secularist attitude which is always adversary to the religious feelings though it appears in the Muslim world in different hypocritical guise.

Turkey has since gone through many changes of government, some sensitive to domestic and overseas problems of Muslims and others less so. Turkey's present secular government is apparently as unconcerned about Islamic sentiments and aspirations of the Muslim community in Japan as it is contemptuous to its own. However the Muslims there are determined not to allow the secularist Turkish embassy to make this heinous deathblow to the feelings of the Muslims in Japan and those of the whole Muslim world. Muslim leaders in Japan have firmly declared, "Occupation of the school land by a non-Muslim group will surely disturb prayers in the Tokyo Mosque." Sale of the land is tantamount to 'usurpation and violation of human rights' and they pointed out that the land 'donated by the Japanese people to Muslims in general, not to any particular government or group.'

The Japanese Muslims do possess the fame of living peacefully and harmoniously with their neighbors. The community traces its origin to a group of Tatar Muslims who fled the Bolshevik revolution of Russia, said to be the first Muslim immigrants to arrive in Japan in 1920. The anti-Communist Japanese government settled the 600 refugees in Tokyo, Kansai and Nagoya. The leader of the Muslim was Muhammad Abdul Hai Kurban Ali, the son of an Imam in Bashikiria. Having the unique political and diplomatic skill, he gained the patronage of the powerful officials of the imperial government for the infant Muslim community which resulted in the establishment of the office of the Turkish Muslims in an area not far from the present location of the Tokyo Mosque in 1931. Educational services were provided for the Muslim children and an Arabic printing press was set up at this site. A monthly magazine was also produced in Tatar language.

Kurban Ali was the moving spirit who oversaw the Tokyo mosque project. The construction cost was paid by donations from the Muslims and other corporate concerns like Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo and others. Kameshaburo Yamashite, a leading shipping magnate, was the chief donator. Work started in October 1937 and was completed early in May in 1938. On Maulad day, 12 may 1938, the mosque was opened in an impressive ceremony with the presence of top Japanese government officials and diplomats from the Muslim countries. Its cultural beauty drew the interest of the non-Muslim scholars and the Japanese government in Islam.

Source: Impact International, May 1998

Living Together

It appears that there is growing a tendency of living together in our society that is very unfortunate. Such immoral tendency will definitely shatter the moral fabric of our society and the collective life will be full of immoral vulgarity devoid of peace and happiness. I regret to mention here that a singer of our country once said that she preferred living together to marriage though she withdrew it soon afterwards because of the social pressure. And there may be some few other people who think like that. In fact such notion about life is against the teachings of all religions as it is against the social values of Bangladesh. If people begin to lead a reckless life without marital bond, it will be harmful for a long-term relation. Family life will definitely be broken. The children and the women will be the most affected ones. Because in that case men will have little sense of responsibility to rear the children nor to maintain the family and such relation is bound to broken in course of time and ultimately the offspring will be helpless and will fall at the mercy of society. And the woman will be abandoned as the man can desert her at any time and begin to practice "living together" with another woman.

It is a serious threat to our social and religious values. There are few people who are freely mixing with the opposite sex and there are some other who are supporting it. Such tendency of free mixing may contaminate the whole society. In this regard it should be mentioned here that the definition of punishable sexual crime as it is given in article 497 of our penal code is very much fallacious and repugnant to the spirit of our religion. It is said there that if someone has sexual contact with a woman who is a wife of another man and if he does it without the consent of the husband then it will be considered adultery and the accused man will be given punishment. According to this definition if the person commits adultery with the consent of the husband of the woman concerned then it will not come under the definition of sexual crime. Moreover it seems that sexual contact outside marriage is valid for the unmarried according to this section. So this definition of punishable sexual crime is obviously inconsistent with the teachings of all religions and the moral values of our country as well. Such provision in our penal code is very much alarming as it may lead our society to a permissive one. In fact, this article is one of the legacies of the British colonial regime and this must be corrected to bring all kinds of sexual contact outside marriage to book. It is the strong hold of religion and strong social values that people are not taking the opportunity of the breach of such provision. As the social context is changing, the Govt. should give attention to the matter and amend the article with the shortest possible time. Any sexual relation outside marriage should be defined as punishable crime and given a reasonable level of punishment.

by Md. Mahmudul Hasan

Separate transport for women

It is true that in the public bus in the city there is a seat arrangement for women. But the fact is that the women avail little chance to get on the bus and travel especially during the office hours when the bus is crowded. Even if there are audacious women who venture to get on the bus, they cannot reach their seat because of the predominance of man there. For this reason many women have to hire taxi or rickshaw whose fare is quite expensive. And in this case women have to spend more money. Sometimes it is seen that a service holder woman has to pay almost equal money of her salary for commuting to her office.

In fact, the very transport system in the city is problematic and to travel from one part of the city to another is really hazardous. A man has to experience a lot of difficult situation when venturing to go from one place to another let alone a woman. The problems of woman when travelling much more. She has to fall into rivalry with men when trying to get on a bus. Sometimes she can get on a bus and more often she fails to win the game with her male counterpart. Moreover, the bus driver is reluctant to take a woman and he advises his helper, "Mohila tulbina" (don't allow women in the bus). Nevertheless, when a woman gets on a bus, she has to face bitter and shameful experiences inside the bus as she remains in close contact with men. But she has nothing to do. Because she has no other means of travelling.

The facilities of woman to have job have been definitely increased at the present time than any time before. But her commuting to her work place has not been ensured in the least. The authority seems to have no concern about the safety of the female jobholders. The garment factory workers are mostly women and they are playing a great role in the development of our economy. But we feel aggrieved to see them neglected both in their work place and their way.

It is a good sign that some special services have been introduced in the city and these are quire comfortable. They can do a good job for the convenience of the women by starting separate services for the women. We request the authority of these services to introduce separate services for the women at least in the peak hour of the day.

by Monalia Sadiya, Dhaka University

Dead Heart: Al-Jumuah, Vol 8 issue 4, USA

While thousands of Muslims are killed all over the world, and while tens of thousands are imprisoned and tortured for calling to the path of Allah and for enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, most Muslims remain remarkably silent and have no worry except for the material things of life. Their hearts have been filled with the love of this life and the forgetfulness of the Hereafter.

Allah says in the Qur'an: "You will indeed find them, of all people, most greedy of life, even more than those who do not believe in Resurrection. Each one of them wishes he could be given a life of a thousand years. But the grant of such life will not save him even a little from due punishment. For Allah sees all they do" (Al Baqarah, 2:96). Many Muslims today have become so much attached to their life that their desire is to dwell among their family, house, money and commerce. They have forgotten that matters of Hereafter should come before matters of this life and that we must strive to follow the orders of Allah not just those we find easy and convenient to follow. Some Muslims today claim that it is better to perform extra prayers and extra fasting than enjoin the good and forbid the evil or defend the lives of the weak Muslims. Such people would even blame the Muslims who strive to perform these obligations. This is what Ibn al-Qayyim had to say about such people: "The Shaitan has misled most of people by beautifying for them the performance of certain voluntary acts of worship such as voluntary prayers and voluntary fasting while neglecting other obligatory acts of worship such as enjoining the good and eradicating the evil to the extent that they do not even make the intention of performing them whenever they are able. Such people are considered by the scholars to be on the bottom of the scale of religion. For the essence of our religion is to perform what Allah has ordered us to do. The one who does not perform his obligations is actually worse than the one who performs sins. Anyone having some knowledge about the revelation of Allah, the guidance of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, and the life of the companions would conclude that those who are pointed at today as the most pious people are in fact the least pious. Indeed, what kind of piety is there in a person who witnesses Allah's sanctities being violated, His religion abandoned, the Sunnah of His Messenger shunned, and yet remains still with a cold heart and shut mouth. Such a person is like a dumb Shaitan. In the same way the one who talks falsehood is a speaking Shaitan. Isn't the misfortune of Islam due only to those who whenever their life and food are secure, would not care about what happens to the religion? The best among them would offer a sorry face. But if they were challenged in one of the things their heart is attached to like their money, they would spare no efforts to get it back. These people, besides deserving the anger of Allah, are afflicted with the greatest calamity without even knowing it: "They have a dead heart. Indeed the more alive a person's heart is, the stronger its anger for the sake of Allah and the more complete his support to Islam and Muslims." (A'alaam al-Muwaqqi'een, volume 2, page 176).

Courtesy: Al-Jumuah, Vol 8, Issue 4, USA

Non-Muslim scholars about Prophet (SAWS)

Allah the Glorious says in the Holy Qur'an, "You have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct)" (33:21). Addressing the Prophet Allah (SWT) says, "And thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character" (68:4). There are so many other verses in the Holy Qur'an in which Allah (SWT), the Creator and Sustainer, has highly lauded our beloved Prophet (SAWS). The Muslims regard him more than any other human being. Allah says, "The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves…." (33:6).

Surprisingly enough there are few wretched and freakish type of writers who very unjustly invented some sorts of slanders against Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) whereas all the Muslims and the non-Muslims with a fair mind are greatly impressed by his personality. Herein I am quoting, for the kind information of the readers, some writers who have very highly praised our Prophet in their writings:

Michael H. Hart: "My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world's most intellectual persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels." (M. H. Hart, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons on History, New York, 1978, p. 33)

Thomas Carlyle: In his Heroes and Hero-worship, Carlyle was simply amazed as to "how one man single-handedly could weld warring tribes and wandering Bedouins into a most powerful and civilized nation in less than two decades."

George Bernard Shaw: "He must be called the Saviour of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it much needed peace and happiness." (The Genuine Islam, Singapore, vol. 1, No. 8, 1936)

Lamartine: "Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas of a cult without images, the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is MUHAMMAD. As regards all the standards by which Human Greatness may be measured, we may well ask, IS THERE ANY MAN GREATER THAN HE?" (Lamartine Histoire De La Turquie, Paris, 1854, vol.2, pp 276-277)

Bosworth Smith: "He was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without Pope's pretensions, Caesar without the legions of Caesar: without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue; if ever any man had the right to say that he ruled the right divine, it was Mohammed, for he had all power without its instruments and without its supports." (Bosworth Smith, Muhammad and Mohammedanism, London, 1874, p.92.)

W. Montgomery Watt: "His readiness to undergo persecutions for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as leader, and the greatness of the ultimate achievement-all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raised more problems than solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad." (W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at Mecca, Oxford, 1953, p. 52.)

Prof. Hurgronje: "The league of nations founded by the prophet of Islam put the principle of international unity and human brotherhood in such universal foundations as to show candle to other nations." He continues: "The fact is that no nation of the world can show a parallel to what Islam has done towards the realization of the idea of the League of Nations."

Mahatma Gandhi: Speaking on the character of Muhammad (SAWS) Mahatma Gandhi says in Young India, "I wanted to know the best of one who holds today's undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind…I became more than convinced that it was not the sword that won a palace for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle."

Sarogini Naidu, the famous poetess of India says about Islam: "It was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy; for in the mosque, when the call for prayer is sounded and worshippers are gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day when the peasant and king kneel side by side and proclaim: 'God Alone is Great'… I have been struck over and over again by this indivisible unity of Islam that makes man instinctively a brother." (S. Naidu, Ideas of Islam, video Speeches and Writings, Madras, 1918, p.169).

Diwan Chand Sharma: "Muhammad was the soul of kindness, and his influence was felt and never forgotten by those around him." (D. C. Sharma, The Prophets of the East, Calcutta, 1935, pp.12).

K. S. Ramakrishna Rao (an Indian Professor of Philosophy): "Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, …PERFECT MODEL FOR MANIND." Professor Ramakrishna Rao explains his point by saying, "The personality of Muhammad, it is most difficult to get into the whole truth of it. Only a glimpse of it I can catch. What a dramatic succession of picturesque scenes! There is Muhammad, the Warrior; Muhammad, the Businessman; Muhammad, the Statesman; Muhammad, the Orator; Muhammad, the Reformer; Muhammad, the Refuge of Orphans; Muhammad, the Protector of Slaves; Muhammad, the Emancipator of Women; Muhammad, the Judge; Muhammad, the Saint. All these magnificent roles, in all theses departments of human activities, he is alike a hero."

Thus the peerless supreme personality of our beloved Prophet (SAWS) is universally acknowledged by all the reasonable scholars of the world. I feel pity for them who fail to get into the deep of his individuality. I feel pity for the few writers who show their academic dishonesty by the frustrated try that they have made to malign the distinct character of Muhammad (SAWS).

by Md. Mahmudul Hasan